Where can I find sweetgrass around here?

“Here” being Southwestern Ontario, from the areas of Waterloo, Guelph, and the general Waterloo Township area (that’s the farthest that I have the means to travel).

Sweetgrass (Hierochloe odorata) is a tall, aromatic grass that is common in the prairie regions of Canada, but I’ve been told is also native to Ontario. It’s used in Aboriginal circles by picking and braiding it together; the braids are then burned, and the resulting smoke has purifying properties. Problem is, it’s nearly indistunguishable from other grasses which makes it hard to find. I know what it looks and smells like, so that’s not a problem. But I have no idea where patches of it growing wild are located around here. I’ve gone scouting a few times, but to no avail.

If anyone knows some general locations where I might find some, the info would be much appreciated.

Here ya go…not super specific but it should help. They have a map…sort of…at the top that you might be able to discern where it is. Map seems of a smallish region but I really no clue.

If I’m reading the legalese in this right, Sweetgrass in the Waterloo area has been officially deemed a “Significant Species” due to its rarity, and you probably aren’t supposed to go looking for places to pick it. And if you did find someone to ask to tell you where you can go to pick some, they probably wouldn’t tell you.

Like with ladyslipper orchids or sundews.

You can buy sweetgrass on the Internet already made up into “smudge wands”. Check Froogle.

Thanks…I didn’t know it was protected here. In that case, I’ll leave it be. I don’t want to deplete it if it’s rare here. Out West it’s common as dirt.

I actually checked in to mention that a friend directed me to a lady I know who grew her own garden full of it, and will give me some seeds to start my own. I’ll have to wait till next season to see it, but it’ll solve my problems.

Thanks for the info, Whack-a-Mole and Duck Duck Goose.

Don’t know about wild, but you can buy it from a nursery on the Six Nations Reserve just outside of Brantford: http://www.sweetgrassgardens.com/

I’ve actually read that Hierochloe odorata can be invasive. It’s easily enough bought online if you search for it.

The sweet aroma of it comes from the chemical coumarin, found in Tonka beans (Dipteryx odorata), and also sweet woodruff (Asperula odorata). Coumarin was also in one of Cecil’s columns:


Amazon, do you know of an indigenous community around there? If so, you might check with them. If you get it from them, say from a gift shop, always take a few bundles of tobacco wrapped in squares (abt 2 inches sq) of red cloth and tied at the top. Give a bundle to any elder you encounter. You’ll make big points with them as having respect and good manners. Feel free to email me if you have any further questions.


Well, I’m Métis and am part of an Aboriginal women’s drum group that has a lot of people from different nations and clans there, but they all usually pick sweetgrass while out West. Unfortunately I don’t have the means to get there. The Ohsweken Six Nations reserve in Brantford that Muffin suggested, I can probably get there. I’ve been down that way a couple times.
In any case, I have lots of tobacco (some of which I’m going to exchange for the seeds my friend is giving me). :slight_smile: Thanks.

Ironically, I was looking through the seed that i had. I have some sweetgrass I think. Let me make sure that it is fertile and I’ll send you some. Do you need sage as well?

That would be fantastic, for both. Email me your address? (my email is in my profile)…I’ll send you something in return.

check your ICQ. The board blocks access to your email.

Is sweetgrass the same stuff as the “stevia” sweetener used as a natural alternative to aspartame/saccharin etc? If so, it can’t be that rare, because someone must be commercially farming it.


The sweetgrass we’re talking about here is Hierochloe odorata, a perennial grass.

AFG, while looking it up in the USDA’s database just now, I discovered that true “sweetgrass” or “vanilla grass”, Hierochloe odorata, is definitely classed as endangered in Maryland, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, FWIW.

It does grow in cultivation.