May 4, 2012 - Foraging, Spring, Wild    3 Comments

Meet the Master of the Woods – Sweet Woodruff

After weeks of rain and many hours of sitting down in the office, I really needed to get out for a quick stroll in the woods around Bristol the first second the sun showed its face again. I was delighted to discover Sweet Woodruff, a pretty little herb which reminds me of my childhood as it’s very popular in Germany. I’m sure you’ve come across it yourself without even noticing or knowing its delicious little secret.

How to use Sweet Woodruff?

Once wilted or dried for 2-3 hours, Sweet Woodruff develops a very special scent and flavour, a cross between vanilla, Amaretto, rose, and lime, ideal for infusing cremes, jellies and tipples. Don’t infuse it for more than half an hour though as it will become a bit too earthy tasting which you don’t really want.

All you need to do is, tie into a bunch and hang in a warm and dark place to dry for a couple of hours or even several days if you want to use it at a later point. Store it in a airtight container.

Where to find Sweet Woodruff?

Sweet Woodruff can be found in the Northern Hemisphere from April to June and prefers woodlands and partial to full shade in moist, rich soils.

What does Sweet Woodruff look like?

Admiring the plant from the top, you can see how 6-9 leaves are aligned in a circle, forming a star shape. The leaves are lanceolate shaped, bright green, smooth, and between 2-5 cm long.

The tiny flowers are on average 4-7 mm in diameter with four petals joined together at the base.

Don’t confuse with Stickyleaf

Sweet Woodruff can be easily mixed up with Stickyleaf (see image below). Its leaves are much thinner and as the name says, will stick to your skin or clothes.


Be warned, the plant can be toxic if over consumed.  A too high dose can cause headaches or make you drowsy as it contains sedative properties. In extreme cases it can cause central paralysis or liver damage.

Make sure you only use recommended quantities and don’t have it every day for the next two months. Also, if you are pregnant, better be safe, it’s not the right time to experiment!

As with many things, as long as it’s consumed in moderation, you can enjoy the delights Mother Nature has on offer.

Keep your eyes peeled as some delicious recipes will follow shortly!

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  • Wildcraft diva

    Thankyou, I haven’t discovered woodruff yet. This is so informative-fab photos. I’ve heard it’s excellent with prosecco and champagne!

    • Ingrid Anusic

      It is a fantastic little plant with gorgeous flowers and yes it goes well bubbly, in Germany also known as Maibowle. Hope you find some!