Clearly recognize woodruff in the forest and collect it safely

Clearly recognize woodruff in the forest and collect it safely

The woodruff's growth habit and flower

The plant Galium odoratum, also known as Maywort, not only has a very special aroma, but also looks quite attractive. The plant, which grows up to a maximum of 30 centimeters high, often forms extensive carpets in sparse forests, as it multiplies through self-sowing of the seeds and through its root network. This also makes this medicinal herb a popular ground cover for particularly shady places in the garden. On the thin, square stems of the woodruff, the lance-shaped, narrow leaves are arranged in a whorl shape on different levels. During the flowering period from around mid-April to mid-May, you can recognize the woodruff even more easily by its many white flowers, which are shaped like small crosses.

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  • Woodruff himself propagate and harvest
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The woodruff's smell and taste

The typical smell and taste of the woodruff was or is traditionally used for the following products, for example:

  • May punch
  • Woodruff lemonade
  • green wackling peter
  • Woodruff shower
  • Berliner Weisse

Although it is noticeable on the fresh stems, the smell becomes more intense after a short drying phase of one to two days. If you are not entirely sure about a plant population in the forest, you can first let a few stems wither and then collect larger quantities at the relevant location if necessary.

Healing effects and poison potential of woodruff

Woodruff has been mentioned as a medicinal plant since the Middle Ages, which is mainly due to the coumarin contained in its stems and leaves. The consumption of certain amounts of woodruff should not only fight headaches, but also be digestive and antispasmodic. However, their use in children's sweets and lemonades has been banned in Germany for several decades, as excessive consumption in large quantities is said to lead to permanent liver damage. In the short term, headaches, malaise and vomiting can occur in the event of an overdose.

Tips & Tricks

To avoid overdosing the coumarin, which splits up during drying, you should only pour over the woodruff for the production of maypole and not soak it.