Galium odoratum

Tried and Trouble-free Recommended by 7 Professionals
Common Name: sweetscented bedstraw
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Rubiaceae
Native Range: Europe, northern Africa, northern Asia
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 1.50 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Herb, Naturalize
Flower: Showy, Fragrant, Good Dried
Leaf: Fragrant
Tolerate: Heavy Shade, Black Walnut

Culture

Easily grown in average, medium to wet, well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. Spreads by both creeping roots and self-seeding to form an attractive ground cover in moist, shady areas. Can be somewhat aggressive in optimum growing conditions. Where restraint becomes necessary, plants can be mowed with a rotary mower on a high setting. On the other hand, plants may go dormant by mid-summer if improperly grown in dry, sunny locations.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Galium odoratum, commonly called sweet woodruff, is a mat-forming perennial that is most often grown as a ground cover in shady areas. Plants typically grow 8-12" tall and feature fragrant, lance-shaped, dark green leaves in whorls of 6-8 along square stems. Small, fragrant, 4-petaled, white flowers appear in loose cymes in spring. Plants emit a strong odor of freshly mown hay when foliage is crushed or cut. Aromatic intensity of the foliage increases when dried, thus dried leaves are popularly used in sachets or potpourris. Plants have also been used commercially in perfumes. Leaves are sometimes used to flavor teas and cold fruit drinks. Leaves are also used to make May wine, a punch made from white wine flavored with woodruff, orange and pineapple. Woodruff comes from Old English meaning wood that unravels, in probable reference to the creeping rootstock of the plant.

Genus name comes from the Greek word gala meaning milk. G. vernus can be used to curtle milk for making cheese.

Specific epithet means fragrant.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

Garden Uses

Useful in herb gardens, rock gardens, naturalized areas, shady borders or as a ground cover or edging plant.