Woodruff (Ang. Sax. Wude-Rofe), sometimes written woodroof, and by the old writers woodderowffe, a low perennial herb (asperula odorata) of the madder family (rubiacem), native of Europe and Russian Asia, often cultivated in gardens. Its square stems, erect from a slender creeping rootstock, are 6 to 12 in. high; the oblong-lanceolate leaves usually eight in a whorl; the flowers, in terminal clusters, are white, the tube with a four-parted limb; calyx united with the ovary, which ripens into a small, globular, very hairy fruit. The flowers are fragrant, and the leaves, odorless when fresh, give off when wilted or dry the scent of new-mown hay, which is retained by the dried herbage for several years; it belongs to the same class of odors as that of the sweet vernal grass, melilot, Tonqua bean, and vanilla. The plant spreads by its underground stems, and forms dense mats or clumps, a habit of growth which makes it useful for edging to borders; it likes the shade, and may be used to carpet the ground beneath shrubs. It is much esteemed by the Germans, who call it Waldrnewter and use it to flavor wine; their favorite Maiwein, or.
Maitrank, is made by infusing the leaves in Rhine wine; the Germans in this country often use instead the sweet-scentted bedstraw (galium triflorum), a related plant of similar appearance, which gives off in drying an odor much like that of woodruff. The plant is readily increased by division, or may be raised from seeds.
Woodruff (Asperula odorata).