Thursday, 02 August 2012

Home Remedy: Sweet woodruff

Written by Sof McVeigh
This little woodland plant was one of the those I planted in my new 'medicinal garden' this spring and it has thrived. It has small, white, star-shaped flowers in early summer and, now the flowers are gone, it is a neat clump about 15cm high.

Despite its Latin name – Galium odoratum – neither its flowers nor leaves smell of much, but, as soon as they're picked and start to dry, the smell is wonderful; a sweet smell of freshly mown hay with an under scent of marzipan. They keep this fragrance, so are great to add to potpourri, or for fragrant bunches in linen cupboards. Some even say it deters moths, though I prefer artemisia for this (see Home Remedy, 4 May issue).

Once the leaves are dry you can keep them to make a soothing tea, which is said to help insomnia and anxiety. Traditionally, it was used to aid liver function and help with gall stones. It can also be used to flavour May wine and beer. But be warned – too much of this little plant can induce dizziness and vomiting, owing to coumarin, the very chemical that gives it its sweet smell.

Sof McVeigh:

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