A hardy perennial herb with a sweet vanilla-like fragrance, sweetgrass is native to Europe and North America.
The plant can grow to a height of about 24 inches, with long leaves that have shiny undersides. Its name, Hierochloe odorata, literally means "fragrant holy grass," and the plant has been regarded as sacred everywhere it has been grown and harvested. In Northern Europe, sweetgrass was scattered on the ground in front of churches on saints' days so that the pleasing fragrance would be released when people walked inside. The leaves, which can reach two feet in length, are woven to make baskets, used as a flavoring for tea, tobacco, candy, soft drinks, and vodka, and as an ingredient in perfumes. It is most often braided and then moistened to release its sweet fragrance, or burned as incense. When burned, the plant smolders, producing clouds of fragrant smoke.
Precautions: Not recommended for internal use, due to the presence of coumarin.
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