Woodruff , Galium odoratum

Public domain. Courtesy of Jopi  {Wikicommons}.


This member of the Bedstraw family is a pretty little woodland plant which may be encountered in flower from April until June.This family includes Cleavers/Goosegrass {click on  content banner above}, Heath bedstraw, Marsh bedstraw, hedge bedstraw etc. The bedstraw family is called Rubiaceae.

The species name for this plant is odoratum. In its fresh state the plant has no scent and it is only after it has been picked for a couple of hours does the scent become evident, a pleasant smell which has been described a mixture of vanilla and new mown hay.

It is native to much of Europe as well as countries such as Turkey , China , and Japan. 

Woodruff  in flower.

Waldmeister(Mai).JPGImage courtesy of Hajotthu   CC BY-SA 3.0 License.

Description and habitat.

The woodruff attains the height /length of 30-50 cm. {12-20 inches and often lies close to the ground or requires support from available vegetation. Other common names for this plant are 'sweet woodruff' and 'Baby's breath' and it may be confused in some localities for Galium trifolum and Galium verum.

This species has its leaves in whorls of  6-9 leaves that are 2-5 cm long { 0.79- 1.97 inches long.} They are lanceolate and have prickles at the edges they taper to a point at the tip. The small white flowers occur in clusters at the top of the flower stalk.

They may be encountered in woodlands throughout much of the British Isles. 

Leaves are grouped in whorls around the stem

Image courtesy of Frank Vincentz   CC BY-SA 3.0  License.Galium odoratum1 ies.jpg

Historical medicinal uses. 

In days gone by the whole plant was used in herbal medicine and considered to be highly effective as an antinflammatory and diuretic. It was also considered to be a useful drug against hypertension, as a sedative and styptic or tonic. However, it is not a plant recommended as self-medication and side effects from prolonged or overuse of this plant range from headaches, black outs and liver damage. Indeed excessive doses can lead to internal bleeding.

Fruit of sweet woodruff.

Image courtesy  Kristian Peters.  CC BY-SA 3.0 License.Galium odoratum frucht.jpeg

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