Galium odoratum Open-pollinated. A lovely ground cover for shaded areas, its whorls of pointed leaves covered with clusters of tiny snowy-white spring flowers. Vanilla-scented leaves are essential in Maybowl, a traditional German punch, and also used in potpourris. Said to be helpful for migraine, nervous conditions and stomach pain. Drying increases its clover fragrance. A classic strewing herb in the Middle Ages used to purify the church, dining hall and bedrooms with its coumarin-rich fragrance. Sow outdoors in a woodland site or in a heavy layer of well-rotted leaf mulch. Can be very slow to germinate—up to 200 days—and then may not be visible right away because the plants grow by underground rhizomes. Be patient—woodruff will appear the following spring and grow 6–8" tall and spread. Perennial, Zone 5. ~160 seeds/g. ②
4698 Sweet Woodruff
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See Herb Chart in the sidebar for uses and cultural information.
About medicinal herbs: Archeological evidence dates the medicinal use of herbs back 60,000 years to the Neanderthals. 85% of the world’s population employ herbs as medicines, and 40% of pharmaceuticals in the U.S. contain plant-derived materials. Fewer than 10% of higher plant species have been investigated for their medicinal components. Interest in traditional herbal remedies continues to grow.
Statements about medicinal use of plants have not been evaluated by the FDA, and should not be used for the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any ailment. Before using or ingesting any medicinal plant, consult a healthcare practitioner familiar with botanical medicine.
Using herbs: Drying herbs at home is not difficult. Whole leaves retain their flavor at least a year. To substitute fresh herbs for dried in cooking, use triple the dried quantity called for in a recipe.
Culture: Some herbs are customarily grown from divisions because they cannot come true from seed, such as scented thymes and flavored mints. Some require fall sowing of fresh seed, such as sweet cicely and angelica, and these become available in August or September.
For the latest results of our germination tests, please see the germination page.