Family: Rubiaceae, Galium odoratum (L.) Scop.
Source: Simon, J.E., A.F. Chadwick and L.E. Craker. 1984.
Herbs: An Indexed Bibliography. 1971-1980. The Scientific Literature
on Selected Herbs, and Aromatic and Medicinal Plants of the Temperate
Zone. Archon Books, 770 pp., Hamden, CT.
Woodruff, Galium odoratum (L.) Scop., is a perennial herb
native to Europe, North Africa, and Asia. Formerly classified
as Asperula odorata L. and sometimes commonly known as
sweet woodruff, the species grows to a height of about 0.3 meters
with erect and spreading stems, narrow green leaves, and white
flowers that bloom in the spring.
The reported life zone of woodruff is 7 to 199Cdeg;C with an annual
precipitation of 0.3 to 1.4 meters and a soil pH of 4.5 to 8.5
(4.1-31). The plant grows best under shade and in a heavy
mulch of organic matter that has adequate drainage. The plant
is generally found and collected in moist, wooded locations, but
it can be cultivated.
The main chemical constituents of woodruff include coumarin, tannin,
asperuloside, fatty oil, essential oil, and a bitter principle
(14.1-35). The characteristic new-mown hay aroma present
in dry leaves, but not fresh leaves, comes from coumarin in the
Fresh leaves are used as flavoring agents in nonalcoholic and
alcoholic beverages. May wine is prepared by adding fresh springs
of woodruff to Rhine wine. Dried leaves have been used in sachets,
and snuffs and as a bitter principle (14.1-35). Woodruff
is also employed in perfume for its fragrance and as a fixative.
As a medicinal plant, woodruff has traditionally been considered
an antispasmodic, diaphoretic, diuretic, and stomachic. Folk remedies
include use of woodruff against jaundice and nervousness, to heal
wounds, to regulate heart activity, and to improve the taste of
other medicinal formulations. Coumarins present in woodruff are
known to be indirect anticoagulants (11.1-96). The essential
oil of woodruff is considered a carminative and mild expectorant
(11.1-136). Dried leaves are used as an insect repellent.
Woodruff is generally recognized as safe for human consumption
in alcoholic beverages (21 CFR section 172.515 ).
[Note: References listed above in parentheses can be found in
full in the original reference].
Last modified 6-Dec-1997