Sweet Woodruff

Herbal plants represent a significant part of our natural habitat however, there has been an increasing concern over the negligence of these essential herbs by human beings. To a larger extent, certain important herbs are not mainly meant to be known by only the scientists, pharmacists or doctors rather ought to be acknowledged by everyone since these herbs are God’s free drugs to us all.

Apparently, people tend to use several drugs and medications without even knowing that the natural contents of such drugs is just right around their corner. Studies reveal that there has been an increasing demand for medicinal herbal products, which are usually available even sometimes without medical consultation.

Since the use of herbal products is highly likely to continue, it is then our responsibilities to take our time and identify the benefits of some medicinal herbs around us. One of such vital natural essential herb is the sweet woodruff, which is scientifically referred to as Galium odoratum L. Sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum L.), is a creeping rhizome that is perennial in nature and grows mainly in shady deciduous forests where beech trees are prevalent.

Sweet woodruff is a herbaceous plant that belongs to the Rubiaceae family, of the tribe of Rubieae whose members accrue anthraquinones in their roots. Sweet woodruff originated from Europe, precisely Ireland and Spain before spreading to other parts pf the world such as; the United States, Turkey, Japan, Russia, Caucasus, Siberia, Canada, Iran and China.

Sweet woodruff is mainly planted due to its aromatic foliage and flowers. Its aromatic smell is as a result of coumarin, which is an odoriferous agent that is present in the plant that makes it a suitable for use as a flavouring agent.

Also referred to as the master of the woods, woodruff or wild baby’s breath, the sweet woodruff usually grows approximately 12–20 inches long, before spreading flat on the ground with yellowish stringy underground runners that forms a sturdy mat that is capable of choking other feeble plants.
Sweet woodruff is characterised by distinctive rich green leaves whorls and luminous white flowers that makes the plant attractive and worthy to behold. 


Sweet Woodruff

The leaves are characteristically smooth with dotted glands, rough margins and usually grows in whorls of six to nine. As the name suggests, the sweet woodruff leaves usually has a pleasant smell that is synonymous to vanilla and honey.

The sweet woodruff fruit tends to be enveloped with hooked bristles that tends to trap clothing, the feathers or furs of passer-by animals. The fruit, which is normally produced singly normally measures approximately 2–4 mm diameter.


1. Medicinal Benefits
Sweet woodruff is a contains anthraquinone and its derivatives thus larvicidal, anti-oxidizing, anti-fungal, anti-microbial and anti-viral in nature.

Researchers agree that sweet woodruff can be used for treating several diseases and disorders such as; heart irregularities, kidney problem, varicose veins, indigestion, swelling, liver disorder, migraine, uterine cramps, insomnia and menopausal problems. It can also be taken for the preventing and curing lung infections and gallbladder disorders. Sweet woodruff can also be taken to strengthen weak veins as well as to enhance normal blood circulation.

2. Fragrance Purpose
Due to the aromatic smell of the sweet woodruff, this flowers and leaves are used as fragrance for homes, offices etc. Besides, sweet woodruff can be added to medicines to boost their taste and flavor.

3. Repellent Purposes
The sweet woodruff can be dried and stored in clothing, linens and bedding in order to wade off insects and moths. It is a perfect fragrance for making perfumes.

4. Culinary Purposes
Sweet woodruff is used for sweetening food, juice, jam, wines, beers, jelly, soft drinks, tea and ice cream etc. It can also be used as a food colorant.

5. Treatment of Cuts and Wounds
Squeezed sweet woodruff leaves contain tannin thus can be pressed on bruises, wounds and cuts to stop bleeding and for faster healing.

6. Antiarthritic Properties
Studies reveal that the sweet woodruff anti-arthritic in nature thus has the capability of preventing and relieving arthritic symptoms.

7. Bactericidal Properties
Sweet woodruff is a bactericide that can act as a disinfectant and antiseptic thus capable of killing bacteria and inhibiting the growth of microorganism.

8. Tranquilizer
Dried leaves of sweet woodruff can be used for preparing herbal tea and decoctions that can act as a tranquilizer. However, it is noteworthy that taking this in large quantity can lead to vomiting and dizziness.

9. Anticoagulant
Sweet woodruff is an anticoagulant due to the presence of the coumarin chemical in it.

10. Blood Purifier
Studies reveal that the sweet woodruff can be used for purifying the blood.

11. Relaxation of the Nervous System
It can used for preparing herbal medicines that helps to relax and strengthen the nervous system.

12. Treatment of Cold and Chest Congestion
Sweet woodruff can be decocted and taken to loosen chest congestion, cold and cough.

13. Textile Dyeing
Sweet woodruff contains purpurin, anthraquinone and alizarin which makes it suitable for dyeing textiles, clothing and paintings.

14. Laxative Properties
Sweet woodruff is an excellent laxative.

15. Sweet Woodruff Warning
Sweet woodruff contains the coumarin chemical that generates the sweet scent and fragrance of this plant, however studies reveal that very high doses of this chemical is quite toxic thus should be minimally used.

This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnostic and treatments. Remember to always consult your healthcare provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition.


Burnett, A. R., Thomson, R. H., (1968), Naturally occurring quinines: Part XIII. Anthraquinones and related naphtalenic compounds in Galium spp. and in Asperula odorata. Journal of the Chemical Society (C). 854-856.

Das, K., Tiwari, R. K. S., Shrivastava, D. K. (2010), Techniques for evaluation of medicinal plant products as antimicrobial agent: Current methods and future trends, Journal of medicinal plants research, (4), pp. 104–110.

Kumar B, Vijayakumar M, Govindarajan R, and Pushpangadan P. (2007), Ethnopharmacological approaches to wound healing-exploring medicinal plants of Indian Journal of Ethnopharmacol. (114), 103–110.

Ziegenhagen, B., Bialozyt, V.K., Schulze, I., Ulrich, A., & Wulf, M., (2003), Spatial patterns of maternal lineages and clones of Galium odoratum in a
large ancient woodland: Inferences about seedling recruitement. Journal of Ecology. 91: 579-583.

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