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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 Breath.

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 and glabrous, 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 other items.

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.

Also check out the Woodruff Classification, and Woodruff Pictures.

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