> Plant Types
The herbaceous plant Woodruff (Galium
odoratum) is native to Western Asia, Northern Africa
and Europe. It is a perennial plant and is part of the
Rubiaceae family (see classification
for full taxonomical breakdown). Woodruff is also commonly
known as Sweet Woodruff and Wild Baby's
Woodruff grows to lengths from 30 to 50 cm, but it
is not very strong and lays flat along the ground. If
there are other plants nearby, Woodruff
will also grow upwards, but supported by the other plants.
The leaves of this herb are lanceolate
growing 2 to 5 cm long in whorls
of 6 to 9 leaves. The flowers of the Woodruff
are very small, growing only 4 to 7 mm in diameter.
They are white in colour and each have four petals.
Woodruff seeds are only 3 mm in diameter and get spread
when their hooked bristles get caught on clothing and
Woodruff emits a very strong scent,
which comes from coumarin, a toxin found in this plant.
The scent gets stronger when the plant is dying and
wilting, and stays around when drying. This fact makes
Woodruff a popular pot-pourri addition. It is also used
to flavour many different food and beverage products.
As mentioned, it is toxic, but only in high doses. Germany
has banned the use of Woodruff in commercial
food products since 1981.