Bruce Burnett, CH
The word 'woodruff'#157; is derived from the Anglo-Saxon wudurofe</EM>, from wudu</EM>, or woods, referring to the herb's natural habitat deep in the dark forests of Europe.
The word "woodruff" is derived from the Anglo-Saxon wudurofe, from wudu, or woods, referring to the herb's natural habitat deep in the dark forests of Europe.
In Germany's Black Forest, where sweet woodruff grows prolifically, the herb is known as "Waldmeister"," or "Master of the Forest.". The designation "sweet" refers to the vanilla-like, newfreshly- mown hay fragrance the leaves and flowers impart when dried. This is due to the presence of Coumarin, which, like patchouli, has the ability to be a fixative to other fragrances in addition to its own aromatic contribution to perfumes and potpourris. "Ruff" " derives from the French rovelle, meaning wheel, describing the arrangement of the leaves around the stem. In Old French, it was known as muge-de-boys or "musk of the woods."
In the garden, sweet woodruff makes an attractive perennial ground cover, especially forin shaded areas. Indeed, sweet woodruff's leaves will yellow and its pretty white- flowerings will lessen if exposed to too much sun. Although it will grow with abandon through self-seeding and underground rhizomes once established, the seed can be difficult to germinate so it's best to buy your initial plants from a commercial grower or garden center. If starting from seed, make sure they're fresh and they must be stratified to germinate. The plant grows to sixsix inches in both height and width. It is a perennial to zone 3three and flowers from May to June developing a bristly seed that is dispersed by attaching itself to the fur of passing animals.
Sweet woodruff is considered a tonic, along with beingan anti-spasmodic, and a diuretic. The herb is regarded as a mild sedative, especially toparticularly effective in counteracting nervous tension in the very young and elderly. It is supposed to benefits digestion and beis helpful withfor liver obstructions and hepatitis. For these reasons the herb was, and still is, added to early wine in addition to sweetening the harsh flavor of the immature libation. In Germany, Maibowle or Maiwein (May wine) is still drunk as a spring tonic and to marks the passage of winter, along with other May Day celebrations, many of which date back to the time of the Druids. The herb's association with springtime and newness has led to its being carried in sachets to aid in the fulfillment of fresh plans and "new starts.". Woodruff iswas also carried to attract wealth and to bring victory to athletes and soldiers. Some believe Wthat when carried in a leather pouch, it will guard against all evil. Woodruff was strewn on the floors of medieval churches. Garlands of the leaves decorated statues, especially those of the Blessed Virgin, on St. Barnabas's Day (June 11) and St. Peter's Day (June 20).
Although sweet woodruff makes a pleasant addition to some herbal tea blends and may be safely added to desserts and some drinks - such as wine and cider - the herb can be toxic and may cause internal bleeding if taken to excess. Avoid the herb completely if pregnant or if taking general medication, even aspirin. The active ingredient, Coumarin, is used to produce anticoagulant drugs.
Sweet woodruff, especially in combination with other herbs, can alleviate even the most severe headache, including migraines. Try the following tea next time your head is pounding. The herbs may be fresh or dried. Avoid the herb if you are pregnant or taking general pain medication such as aspirin or Tylenol.; the ratio remains the same.
Herbal Headache Tea Blend
2 parts sweet woodruff
1 part lavender flowers
1 part thyme
2 parts rosemary
Pour one cup of boiling water over twotwo teaspoons of the herbal tea blend. Let the tea steep covered for 5-10 minutes then strain and pour. Sweeten with honey if desired.