Sweet Woodruff

Botanical Name: Galium odoratum

Other Common Names: Sweetscented bedstraw

Brief Description and Notes: Though not native, this is still a lovely choice for perennial groundcover in shady and moist conditions. Features whorls of leaves along square stems, and in spring 4-petaled white flowers. Both leaves and flowers are fragrant, especially when dried. Traditionally used to flavor drinks like wine. In ideal conditions it can be mat-forming, but it is not nearly as aggressive as the annual similar-looking Galium aparine, commonly known as “cleavers,” since they stick to you. 


Where To Look For It: Moist shade in cultivated gardens

Ornamental Value: Shady woodland; shaded herb garden; perennial groundcover; spring flowers

Ecological Value & Roles: Groundcover; food for pollinators

Edibility and Other Human Use: Variety of culinary and medicinal uses; common in “Maiwein” of Germany and as a cooling tea. Leaves could be added to salad. Dried leaves exude a pleasant grassy scent often used as potpourri or to repel moths in the house. Medicinally, used often as a sedative, anti-inflammatory, or liver tonic. 



Featured photo by Sherrilyn Billger

Missouri Botanical Garden

Practical Plants: Galium odoratum