Called the "Hair of Mother Earth" in North America, sweet grass (Hierochloe odorata) is traditionally use as a sacred plant, along with sage, tobacco, and cedar, by people in both Europe and North America. Some Native American tribes use sweet grass in prayer and ceremonies after braiding, drying, and smoldering the long leaves, which they believe attracts positive energy and spirits. Native Americans and African-American slaves also used sweet grass for weaving baskets. Identifying sweet grass can help you spot this perennial growing wild among other grasses in marshes and wet meadows and along streams and lakes in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 to 9.
Look at the bottom of the sweet grass leaves, which appear white and shiny like satin ribbons, and can be seen from a distance reflecting the sun. Note that sweet grass leaves do not have hairs.
Notice how the sweet grass leaves curl as they dry in the sun, while other types of grass stay flat as they dry.
Examine the leaf blades of sweet grass, which appear long and narrow, with the widest part of the blade measuring 1/4 inch.
Inspect the blossoms of sweet grass, which emerge in three-flowered spikelets measuring 1/4 inch long. Notice how each flower cluster has its own stalk.
Smell the sweet grass, which has a scent similar to vanilla. Put dried sweet grass in drawers and closets, or with your stored clothing to keep the clothes smelling fresh.