Information on Woodruff

Common Name: Woodruff
Scientific Name: Galium odoratum
Irish Name: Lus moileas
Family Group: Rubiaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period

Click for list of all flowering by month
Woodruff is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.

A perennial which carpets calcareous, shady woodland and damp places, Woodruff is a low-growing hairless plant which only reaches about 25cm tall.  Its stems are square and they bear loose heads of small, white, star-shaped, 4-petalled flowers (3-5mm across).  They bloom in May and June.  The lanceolate leaves are in whorls of 8, the margins edged with tiny bristles. Scented – some say of hay – this is a native wildflower which belongs to the Rubiaceae family.

I first identified this plant growing near Kilmacurragh, Co Wicklow in 2009 and I photographed it on that occasion. 

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

As the species name might suggest, this plant is scented.  It is used in pot-pourri, was once used to flavour German beer and brandy and is also marketed in herbal tea. The wonderful scent - of new-mown hay and vanilla - only develops a while after it has been picked.  An old custom was to lie the dried foliage in between sheets and it is for this reason that the Rubiaceae family is also known as Bedstraw.   Another name for the plant is Baby's Breath.