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Galium odoratum

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Title: Galium odoratum  
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Subject: Cayenne pepper, Paprika, Cumin, List of culinary herbs and spices, Herbal tea
Collection: Angiosperms of Metropolitan France, Flora of Armenia, Flora of Azerbaijan, Flora of Belgium, Flora of Canada, Flora of China, Flora of Denmark, Flora of Estonia, Flora of Georgia (Country), Flora of Germany, Flora of Greece, Flora of Iran, Flora of Italy, Flora of Japan, Flora of Latvia, Flora of Lithuania, Flora of Norway, Flora of Romania, Flora of Russia, Flora of Siberia, Flora of Spain, Flora of the United Kingdom, Flora of the United States, Flora of Turkey, Flora of Western Asia, Galium, Herbs, Medicinal Plants of Africa, Medicinal Plants of Asia, Medicinal Plants of Europe, Plants Described in 1753
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Galium odoratum

sweet woodruff
wild baby's breath
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Rubiaceae
Genus: Galium
Species: G. odoratum
Binomial name
Galium odoratum
(L.) Scop.[1]
  • Asperula odorata L.
  • Galium matrisylva F.H.Wigg.
  • Asperula odora Salisb.
  • Chlorostemma odoratum (L.) Fourr.
  • Asperula matrisylva Gilib.
  • Asperula zangezurensis Huseynov.
  • Asterophyllum asperula Schimp. & Spenn. in F.C.L.Spenner
  • Asterophyllum sylvaticum Schimp. & Spenn. in F.C.L.Spenner
  • Asperula eugeniae K.Richt.
  • Galium odoratum var. eugeniae (K.Richt.) Ehrend. in E.Janchen

Galium odoratum, sweetscented bedstraw, is a flowering perennial plant in the family Rubiaceae, native to much of Europe from Spain and Ireland to Russia, as well as Western Siberia, Turkey, Iran, the Caucasus, China and Japan.[2] It is also sparingly naturalized in scattered locations in the United States and Canada.[3] It is widely cultivated for its flowers and its sweet-smelling foliage.[4][5][6]

A herbaceous plant, it grows to 30–50 cm (12–20 in) long, often lying flat on the ground or supported by other plants. Its vernacular names include woodruff, sweet woodruff, and wild baby's breath; master of the woods would be a literal translation of the German Waldmeister. It is sometimes confused with Galium triflorum and Galium verum.

It owes its sweet smell to the odiferous agent coumarin, and is sometimes used as a flavoring agent due to its chemical content.


  • Growth 1
  • Uses 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4



The leaves are simple, lanceolate, glabrous, 2–5 cm (0.79–1.97 in) long, and borne in whorls of 6–9. The small (4–7 mm diameter) flowers are produced in cymes, each white with four petals joined together at the base. The fruits are 2–4 mm diameter, produced singly, and each is covered in tiny hooked bristles which help disperse them by sticking temporarily to clothing and animal fur.[7][8]

This plant prefers partial to full shade in moist, rich soils. In dry summers it needs frequent irrigation. Propagation is by crown division, separation of the rooted stems, or digging up of the barely submerged perimeter stolons. It is ideal as a ground cover or border accent in woody, acidic gardens where other shade plants fail to thrive. Deer avoid eating it (Northeast US).


As the epithet odoratum suggests, the plant is strongly scented, the sweet scent being derived from ice cream, and herbal tea. In Germany it is also used to flavour sherbet powder. Also very popular are Waldmeister flavoured jellies, with and without alcohol.[9]


  1. ^ "Galium odoratum information from NPGS/GRIN".  
  2. ^ a b Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  3. ^ Biota of North America Program
  4. ^ White Flower Farm (Litchfield Connecticut USA)
  5. ^ Monrovia Nurseries (Azusa California USA)
  6. ^ Royal Horticultural Society (London UK)
  7. ^ Gleason, H. A. & A.J. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of the Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada (ed. 2) i–910. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx.
  8. ^ Altervista Flora Italiana
  9. ^ Sweet Woodruff Vodka Jelly

External links

  • Plants for a Future
  • USDA plants profile
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