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woodruff - galium odorata - flowers and leaves

Woodruff, Galium odoratum L.

A dear little plant with great deeds, that is sweet woodruff. With her small flowers and soft green leaves, you would almost overlook her, while she is everywhere.

Sweet woodruff is not very well known today as a medicinal herb, but used to be widely used in the past. Perhaps this decline of use is due to the fact that not much scientific research has been carried out and the emphasis is on well researched plants nowadays. However, this plant has been used for a long time for disorders related to the urinary tract and nervous disorders.

Magically, woodruff can be used for many purposes. The best known ones are probably love and procreation-related purposes, and protection, but also attracting wealth. The plant was dedicated to Freya by the Germanic peoples, which explains the first mentioned application.

Botanical description Woodruff, Galium odoratum L.

Sweet woodruff stands on thin, running rhizomes with many stolons. Because of the stolons the plant spreads fairly quickly, but it does not proliferate strongly. The stem is square, erect, hairless and unbranched. The sessile leaves are arranged in a rosette around the stem. The number of leaves varies between 6 and 9. They are lanceolate, 0.5 to 1.5 centimeters wide and 2 to 4 cm long with 1 nerve. The leaves are hirsute on the edges. At the top, the stem branches and at the stem apexes the flowers stand in umbilical corymbs. The flowers are small, white, tubular to funnel-shaped, and rich in nectar. It is therefore a good insect plant. After flowering, the plant has schizocarps: spherical fruits about 3 mm in size, which have small hook-shaped brushes which are spread by insects. The flowers smell sweet.

Interesting facts

The flowers smell so sweet that they were often used dried in the filling of straw mattresses. Hence the name. It was also used in linen cupboards to make the clothes smell nice. And to repel moths! This usage is still current.
Yellow bedstraw can be used in the same manner.

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