This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol1", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
337. I789. [Hierochloe J. G. Gmel. Fl. Sib. 1: 101. 1747.]
Aromatic perennial grasses, with flat leaf-blades and contracted or open panicles. Spikelets 3-flowered, the terminal flower perfect, the others staminate. Scales 5; the first and second nearly equal, acute, glabrous; the third and fourth somewhat shorter, obtuse, entire, emarginate, 2-toothed or 2-lobed, with or without an awn, enclosing a palet and stamens; fifth scale often produced into a short awn, enclosing a palet and perfect flower. Stamens in the staminate flowers 3, in the perfect 2. Styles distinct. Stigmas plumose. Grain free, enclosed in the scales. [Name in honor of Francesco Eulalio Savastano.]
Entire, culms 1°-3° tall.
Panicle 4' long or less, its branches 2' long or less; blades short, broad.
Panicle 6' long or more, its branches 4'-8' long; blades long, narrow.
Erose-truncate, culms 6' tall or less.
Third and fourth scales awned.
Holcus odoratus L. Sp. PI. 1048. 1753.
Hierochloa borealis R. & S. Syst. 2: 513. 1817.
Hierochloa odorata Wahl. Fl. Ups. 32. 1820.
Savastana odorata Scribn. Mem. Torr. Club, 5: 34. 1894.
Glabrous, culms 1 °-2° tall, erect, simple, smooth. Sheaths smooth; ligule 1"-2" long; lower blades elongated, 4'-8' long, 1"-3" wide, scabrous, the upper ones ¥-2' long; panicle 2'-4' long, its branches l'-2' long, usually spreading, naked below; spikelets yellowish-brown and purple, 2"-3" long; first and second scales about equal, glabrous; third and fourth villous and strongly ciliate, entire, awn-pointed, the fifth smaller than the others, villous at the apex.
Labrador and Newfoundland to Alaska, south to New Jersey, Iowa and Colorado. Also in northern Europe and Asia. June-July. This and other sweet-scented grasses are strewn before the churches in northern Europe, whence the name Holy-grass. Also known as Vanilla-grass.
Savastana Nashii Bicknell, Bull. Torr. Club, 25: 104. pl. 328. 1898.
Plant smooth, glabrous and shining. Culms erect, slender, simple, 2°-3° tall. Sheaths overlapping, striate; ligule scarious, 2"-3" long; blades erect or ascending, elongated, a little roughened above, the culm leaves 5 or 6, 2'-8' long, 2"-3' wide, acuminate; panicle long-exserted, loose and open, '7'-17 long, its apex nodding, the capillary branches drooping, the larger 3'-7' long, in pairs, the divisions more or less flexuous; spikelets 2 1/2"-4" long, on capillary pedicels; scales 5, the outer 2 empty, abruptly long-acuminate, the first -nerved, the second 3-nerved, the third and fourth scales about 2 1/2" long, rough, ciliate on the margins with ascending hairs, 5-nerved, acute, usually awn-pointed, the fifth scale smaller, smooth, his-pidulous at the apex, sometimes awn-pointed.
Along brackish marshes, New York City. July-Aug.
Glabrous, culms 6' high or less, erect, simple, smooth. Sheaths mostly at the base of the culm, overlapping; ligule about 1/2" long; blades smooth, the basal ones 1'-2' long, 1/2" wide, involute at least when dry; culm-blades 1/2 long or less, 1" wide, flat; panicle less than 1' long, contracted; spikelets few, 1 1/2-2" long; first and second scales 1 1/2"-2" long, smooth and glabrous; third and fourth shorter, scabrous, erose-truncate, the fifth shorter than the others, obtuse, villous at the apex.
Arctic America. Summer.
Holcus alpinus Sw.; Willd. Sp. PI. 4: 937. 1806. Hierochloa alpina R. & S. Syst. 2: 515. 1817. Savastana alpina Scribn. Mem. Torr. Club, 5: 34. 1894.
Glabrous and smooth, culms 6'-18' tall, erect, simple. Sheaths shorter than the internodes; ligule less than 1" long; lower blades elongated, 3'-6' long, about 1" wide, the upper much shorter, 1/2'-2' long, 1"-2" wide; panicle 3/4'-1 1/2' long, contracted, branches short, erect or ascending; occasionally the panicle is larger with longer and spreading branches; spikelets 2 1/2"-3 1/2" long, crowded; first and second scales glabrous, 2 1/2"-3 1/2" long; third and fourth shorter, scabrous, ciliate on the margins, the former bearing an awn about 1" long, the latter with a more or less bent awn about 3" long; fifth scale shorter than the others, acute, usually awn-pointed, villous at the apex.
Greenland to Alaska, south to the high mountains of New England and New York. Also in northern Europe and Asia. July-Aug.