Sweet Woodruff, scientific name Galium odoratum, is a perennial herb native to Europe, North Africa, and parts of Asia. It has small, fragrant, star-shaped white flowers and narrow, lance-shaped leaves that grow in whorls of six to eight along the stem. The plant grows to a height of about 20-30 cm and has a spreading habit, forming a dense groundcover. It prefers shady, moist conditions and is well-suited to growing in a woodland garden or as a groundcover in shaded areas.
In terms of its appearance, Sweet Woodruff can be distinguished from similar plants by its small, fragrant white flowers and whorled leaves. To cultivate it successfully, gardeners should plant it in well-drained, moist soil in a location with partial to full shade. It is winter hardy and does not require special care over the winter months.
The leaves of Sweet Woodruff are edible and can be used fresh or dried to add a pleasant, sweet aroma to dishes such as soups, salads, and desserts. The leaves can also be steeped in vinegar to make a sweet-smelling condiment. When harvesting Sweet Woodruff, the leaves should be collected in the spring before the plant flowers. They can be stored by drying them in a cool, dark place.
In addition to its culinary uses, Sweet Woodruff has a number of other uses. The plant has been used medicinally in the past to treat a variety of ailments, including headaches, insomnia, and digestive problems. It is also used as a natural insect repellent and has a long history of use as a strewing herb, due to its pleasant aroma.