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sweet woodruff (galium odoratum)
I love sweet woodruff. It looks so beautiful and it smells so good. Its smell even increases when it is dried.
As a child I loved to buy woodruff flavored ice cream and the woodruff cream cake my grandmother used to bake was a real delight.
Woodruff plants make for a very beautiful ground cover growing around 15-30 cm tall.
how to grow:
To get started we bought some woodruff plants as the plant spreads through rhizomes. Woodruff is a perennial that is hardy in US zones 5-9. Sweet woodruff is usually found in the forest, but can grow almost anywhere. It is said that woodruff can grow in some shade but we found that it is of the greatest importance for woodruff that it gets enough water! I really can't stress enough that most of all it needs moisture to thrive. We had tried to grow it in a spot that got rather dry in summer and it didn't do well there and when we didn't water the plants for a while they even disappeared completely. But in a different not too shady spot where they got lots of water they multiplied aplenty. You need to try to keep grass and other plants away to give woodruff a better chance to spread.
The plant contains the chemical coumarin which also mainly gives it its smell. And while we love the smell and traditionally it was often hung in houses in summer to give the place a cooler and fresher feeling mosquitos can't seem to stand it which makes woodruff a nice insect repellent.
Woodruff also has some medicinal uses.
Externally bruised fresh leaves can be applied to wounds and cuts for wound healing and used to reduce swellings.
It can also be used internally but you need to be very careful as coumarin can be toxic if you take too much of it.
Woodruff is said to be helpful for migraine, nervous conditions including depression and sleeplessness, liver problems and stomach pain, as well as beneficial for jaundice, hemorrhoids, circulation and venous disorders (e.g. blood clotting). It is anti-inflammatory. It is also said to have helped against the plague.
To make tea take 2 teaspoons of the dried green leaves to 1 cup boiling water and don't drink more than 1/2 to 1 cup per day. Also remember that no herb should be taken longer than 3 weeks in a row without further evaluation.
It is best to harvest the leaves you want to dry right after the plants were blooming as this gives you the best fragrance. Tie the leaves together in a bunch and hang them to dry in a warm and dark room with low humidity.
cautions and possible side effects:
- Woodruff contains coumarin which can be toxic if you take too much of it.
- Woodruff might prevent blood clotting. Therefore you should not use it at least 2 weeks before scheduled surgeries and it can increase your risk of bleeding.
- Not enough research is done on the plant so it is better to not use it during pregnancy.
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