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Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.

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Hierochloe occidentalis

Hierochloe occidentalis Buckley

California Sweetgrass, California Sweet Grass, California Vanilla Grass

Poaceae (Grass Family)

Synonym(s): Anthoxanthum occidentale, Hierochloe macrophylla


USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

A perennial grass, 2-3 ft. tall., California Sweet Grass produces bright-green, rather broad, sweet-scented leaves. It grows in clumps and spreading by rhizomes. The panicle is loose with a few slender, drooping branches bearing few spikelets.


From the Image Gallery

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Grass/Grass-like
Root Type: Fibrous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Linear
Leaf Venation: Parallel
Inflorescence: Panicle
Fruit Type: Caryopsis
Size Notes: Up to about 3 feet tall.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Feb , Mar , Apr , May , Jun
Bloom Notes: Flowers inconspicuous. Bloom color refers to spikelets. Bloom time refers to fruiting period.


Native Distribution: Monterey Co., CA to Klickitat Co., WA
Native Habitat: Moist (to fairly dry) woods below 2000 ft.

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil Description: Moist summer soils.


Description: Sow seed.
Seed Treatment: No pretreatment is necessary.
Commercially Avail: yes

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden - Santa Barbara, CA

Web Reference

Webref 30 - Calflora (2018) Calflora
Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Hierochloe occidentalis in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Hierochloe occidentalis in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Hierochloe occidentalis


Record Modified: 2023-06-06
Research By: TWC Staff

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