WOODRUFF

SWEET WOODRUFF

Galium odoratum

Bedstraw Family [Rubiaceae]  

month8apr month8april month8May

status
statusZnative
flower
flower8white
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZ4
type
typeZumbel
stem
stem8square

6th May 2008, Walkden, Greater Manchester. Photo: © RWD
The leaves are in whorls up the stem.


12th May 2008, Walkden, Greater Manchester. Photo: © RWD
Most have between 7 and 8 dark green and shiny leaves in a whorl.


12th May 2008, Walkden, Greater Manchester. Photo: © RWD
The whorls become smaller up the stem.


12th May 2008, Walkden, Greater Manchester. Photo: © RWD
The leaves are sharply pointed at the end, but not piercingly so.


12th May 2008, Walkden, Greater Manchester. Photo: © RWD
With minute serrations along the edge. The stem is square, and grooved.


12th May 2008, Walkden, Greater Manchester. Photo: © RWD
The flowers are in small gatherings at the top of each stalk.


14th May 2011, High Park Wood, Whitbarrow, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
Four white petals with four short and thin white stamens.


14th May 2011, High Park Wood, Whitbarrow, Cumbria. Photo: © RWD
A single square stem bifurcates near the top into many long flower stalks, forming a small umbel of flowers atop. Sepals very short.


10th June 2009, Smardale, Yorkshire. Photo: © RWD
Stems covered in very short fine hairs, longer hairs on the short sepals. Short bracts at each bifurcation of the stem.


6th May 2008, Walkden, Greater Manchester. Photo: © RWD
The stamens bear white pollen.


Not to be confused with: Wood-Sorrel, Wood Horsetail, Wood Speedwell, Wood Spurge, Wood Sage, Wood Dock, Wood Vetch, Wood Avens, Wood Anemone, Wood Stitchwort, Wood Dog-violet, Wood Ragwort, Wood Burdock or Wood Forget-me-not [plants with similar names].

Uniquely identifiable characteristics

Distinguishing Feature : Un-like all other members of the Bedstraw Family, this one has larger leaves with more in a whorl.

Occupies woods and hedgerows mainly in limestone areas.

Woodruff has probably the largest leaves in the Bedstraw family, thus is easily recognizable. It likes to grow in moist soil in shade or even deep shade. Hedgerows are a favourite spot.

Woodruff is used in some alcoholic drinks such as Maiwine, a white wine.

Woodruff smells sweet like new-mown hay due to the presence of Coumarins, the smell becoming stronger on drying. Thus Woodruff is thus used as a pot-pourri, and in herbal tea, but consumption should be limited due to the toxicity of coumarins. Very high doses cause vertigo, somnolence, and coma within sleep apnoea.

IRIDOID GLYCOSIDES


Woodruff also contains seven toxic iridoid glucosides in the aerial parts of the plant, the sugar molecule in all cases being Glucose (abbreviation: Glc). Amongst them Asperuloside which is related to Aucubin, and is present in many plants belonging to the Bedstraw Family such as Cleavers and Dyer's Madder and also in the totally un-related species Yellow Bird's-nest (Monotropa hypopitys), a saprophyte.

Aucubin, another monoterpenoid-based iridoid glycoside, is found not only in many plants belonging to the Bedstraw Family, but was also first found in the leaves of Spotted Laurel Aucuba Japonica, a popular garden plant which also grows wild. Aucubin was found to offer protection from liver damage caused by carbon tetrachloride (CCl4.



Iridoids consist of a pyran ring fused with a cyclopentane ring. Another iridoid glycoside present is Asperulosidic Acid, which is the pre-cursor of Asperuloside. By the loss of a molecule of water, H2O, Asperulosidic Acid becomes Asperuloside (above). Glc is an abbreviation for the monosaccharide Glucose.

Monotropein is the iridoid upon which Asperuloside and Asperulosidic Acid are based. This compound contributes to the anti-inflammatory action of Woodruff. Glc is an abbreviation for the monosaccharide Glucose.

Betulalbuside A is a monoterpene glycoside also present in Woodruff.

A FLAVONOL GLYCOSIDE

Astragalin is one of the flavonol glycosides based upon the flavonol Kaempferol, as is Rutin which is also present in Woodruff. It appears to derive its name from the Monotropaceae Family, or Bird's-nest Family, which are saprophytes. Taxonomists have recently subsumed the Monotropaceae Family into the Heather Family.


  Galium odoratum  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Rubiaceae  

Distribution
family8Bedstraw family8Rubiaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Galium
Galium
(Bedstraws)

WOODRUFF

SWEET WOODRUFF

Galium odoratum

Bedstraw Family [Rubiaceae]  

WildFlowerFinder Homepage