General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Grass/Grass-like
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Water Preferences: Wet Mesic
Dry Mesic
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 3 -40 °C (-40 °F) to -37.2 °C (-35)
Maximum recommended zone: Zone 8b
Plant Height: 1-3 feet
Leaves: Other: Slender leaves in a fountain-like tussock. Warm-season grass: grows in summer.
Fruit: Showy
Edible to birds
Other: Round seeds less than 2 mm across
Fruiting Time: Fall
Flower Color: Green
Other: Varies between green, yellow, light tan, and gray depending on stage of development
Bloom Size: Under 1"
Flower Time: Summer
Inflorescence Height: 18-36 inches
Foliage Mound Height: 12-24 inches
Underground structures: Rhizome
Uses: Provides winter interest
Will Naturalize
Wildlife Attractant: Birds
Resistances: Fire Resistant
Drought tolerant
Propagation: Seeds: Stratify seeds: May germinate better with cold moist treatment for 1-2 months.
Sow in situ
Other info: Needs no stratification. May germinate better in partial shade.
Propagation: Other methods: Division
Pollinators: Wind
Miscellaneous: Tolerates poor soil

Common names
  • Prairie Dropseed

Photo Gallery
Location: Potomac MD
Date: 2018-07-07
Location: NYBG 
Date: June 14 22
Location: IL
Date: 2010-10-29
Location: IL
Date: 2015-05-25
Be warned, cats love to bunny kick and mess with this grass. This
Location: Illinois, US
Date: 2022-10-23
Location: Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Ann Arbor, MI
Date: 2010-08-30
Location: Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Ann Arbor, MI
Date: 2010-08-30
Location: Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Ann Arbor, MI
Date: 2010-08-30

Photo Courtesy of Prairie Nursery. Used with Permission
  • Uploaded by Joy

Image Courtesy of Bloomin Designs Nursery Used with Permission
  • Uploaded by vic
Location: the Lurie Garden in Chicago, Illinois
Date: 2013-08-13
nice mass in a raised bed
Location: Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Date: 2013-08-02
one plant along garage side
Location: Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Date: 2013-08-02
flower-seedheads close-up
Location: West Valley City, UT
Date: 2013-07-16
Very airy and pretty waving in the wind.
Location: MN
Date: 2017-06-20
Location: Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Ann Arbor, MI
Date: 2010-08-30
Location: Matthaei Botanical Gardens, Ann Arbor, MI
Date: 2010-08-30

Photo Courtesy of Prairie Nursery. Used with Permission
  • Uploaded by Joy

Photo Courtesy of Prairie Nursery. Used with Permission
  • Uploaded by Joy

Date: 2016-08-21
Photo courtesy of Santa Rosa Gardens. Used with permission.
Location: Indiana Dunes State Park headquarters
Date: 2016-07-16
nice mass
Location: Volo Bog headquarters in Ingleside, Illinois
Date: 2014-08-14
several plants in a group with other plants
Location: West Valley City, UT
Date: 2013-07-16
Location: Ontario, Canada
Date: 2019-10-12
This plant is tagged in:

  • Posted by molanic (IL - Zone 5b) on Oct 29, 2022 10:18 AM concerning plant:
    This has to be on of my favorite native plants, but it seems really hard to get a photo that captures how nice it is in person. It has such a nice texture to run your hand through, good fall color, and very pretty delicate panicles. In the fall I see juncos jump up in the air to try and get the seeds. Some say it smells like buttered popcorn or coriander, but I don't notice that too much. Maybe it's more apparent if you have large areas of it. It seems like the neighborhood cats really like it for some reason. They frequently sit on it, or flop on their sides to bunny kick it and shred it with their feet or chew on it. I've seen several different cats do this over the years. It divides well and I've also started some from seed... although it takes several years to get a good sized clump from seed.
  • Posted by Cyclaminist (Minneapolis, Minnesota - Zone 5a) on May 16, 2016 1:57 AM concerning plant:
    From what I read online, this is a grass that mainly occurs in high-quality prairie remnants. Hard to germinate, so not planted very often in restorations. The small round seeds are eaten by sparrows (not sure if they eat the seeds directly from the flower stems or once they fall to the ground). The dense clump of long slender leaves is distinctive among native grasses.

    I'm growing this from seed. Not sure where it'll go in the garden, but it is lovely and it will be a nice addition. Hopefully I'll see some handsome little juncos scratching for the seeds in the winter.
  • Posted by ILPARW (southeast Pennsylvania - Zone 6b) on Feb 10, 2018 3:19 PM concerning plant:
    I ordered one plant in a small pot by mail in 2006 from Prairie Nursery in Westfield, Wisconsin, an excellent source for perennial native plants and a few woody ones. I planted it in my once totally sunny "prairie garden" in the backyard. After several years, the Gray Birches and Serviceberry trees gave forth too much shade for them and other taller plants were competing with it, so I moved it in 2012 to a bed along the west side of my garage where it loves the spot. It has very, thin fine textured blades of emerald-green color. It is very soft to touch and sort of fountain-like in habit. It bears tiny, wispy grass flowers and seedheads. Prairie Nursery mentions that Plains Indians ground the seeds to make a tasty flour. It is not only native to the Midwest, but is also native to the serpentine barrens in the special dry soil with chromium and nickel present in southeast PA and northern MD, and it is found in some other special areas in the East. It is sold by most all native plant nurseries. Only a few larger, diverse conventional nurseries sell it. Many of my fellow horticulturists don't know of these native meadow & prairie grasses, except for Switchgrass.
Plant Events from our members
jhugart On June 2, 2019 Transplanted
Put in the ground. Six plants.
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Discussion Threads about this plant
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Flowers by Cyclaminist May 25, 2016 12:26 PM 2

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