Sweet vernal-grass

Sweet Vernal-grass

©Richard Burkmarr

Sweet vernal-grass

Scientific name: Anthoxanthum odoratum
Flowering in spring, the cylindrical, densely packed flower spikes of Sweet vernal-grass are easily spotted in a meadow. It also tastes of sweet vanilla and was once a favourite 'chewing grass'.

Species information


Height: up to 50cm

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


Sweet vernal-grass is a common perennial of grasslands and meadows that flowers between April and July. Its dense clusters of flowers form cylindrical flower spikes that sit atop stiff stems. Aromatic when dried, Sweet vernal-grass was once a favourite chewing grass for many people as it has a sweet, vanilla-like taste. It is the foodplant for the larvae of brown and skipper butterflies.

How to identify

Sweet vernal-grass has cylindrical flower spikes with closely packed spikelets (containing the flowers). Its leaves are broad and flat.



Did you know?

The pollen of Sweet vernal-grass is particularly aggravating to hayfever sufferers.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts look after many meadow habitats using traditional methods, such as hay-cutting, reseeding and grazing, for the benefit of local wildlife. We are also working closely with farmers and landowners to promote wildlife-friendly practices in these areas. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from stockwatching to surveying meadow flowers.