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Sweet Vernal Grass (Anthoxanthum odoratum) is a species of plant in the Poaceae, or grass, family.

It is a short-lived grass found wild in acidic grassland in Eurasia. It is also grown as a lawn grass and a house plant, due to its sweet scent, and can also be found on unimproved pastures and meadows. 'Odoratum' is Latin for 'smell as well'.

It avoids very dry or waterlogged soil.

IdentificationEdit

This grass grows in tufts. It can grow up to 100 cm.

The stems are 25–40 centimetres (9.8–16 in) tall, with short but broad green leaves 3–5 millimetres (0.12–0.20 in) wide, which are slightly hairy. It flowers from April until June, i.e. quite early in the season, with flower spikes of 4–6 centimetres (1.6–2.4 in) long and crowded spikelets of 6–10 millimetres (0.24–0.39 in), oblong shaped, which can be quite dark when young. The lower lemmas have projecting awns.

The ligules are quite long, up to 5mm, blunt, with hairy fringes around the side.

The scent is particularly strong when dried, and is due to coumarin, a glycoside, and benzoic acid – it smells like fresh hay with a hint of vanilla. The seed head is bright yellow in colour.

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