galium odoratum: sweet woodruff. Also known as sweet bedstraw, and bedstraw, or wild baby’s breath. Native to much of Europe and Asia, limited naturalization in North America this species belongs to the rubiaceae family.
We were trekking through tornado torn Glen Arbor a few weeks ago and stopped in to Wildflowers. As we were on a mission for trilliums, which Alex has been cultivating for a few years now, I wasn’t really expecting to find any thing that I couldn’t live without. Until we passed a tray of woodruff.
I’ve been studying this plant since discovering Waldmeister flavored gelatin. I knew these perky little guys immediately and I might have squealed a little. Then I saw the wildflower beds set for display. A carpet of woodruff surrounded each of the birches! After my housemate found her triliums I went back for a 6 pack of woodruff. It smelled just like the gelatin! Eating it doesn’t taste much like it. But the smell! Any time you ruffle your fingers through these flowers is smells like dessert!
So we brought these guys home and stuck them in the hillside. They should take over fairly easily. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will be naturalizing this plant to protect it from developers. It is not native to Michigan. Brought over by our Immigrant Ancestors™, it is largely ignored by most of the citizenry. Alex is cultivating it because it is a prolific plant that works hard to control erosion along riverbeds. No one really knows that much about it here, so I wasted no time telling him!
My goal is to have these plants spread enough this Summer to make my own mai bowle next year. Aside from it’s herbaceous qualities, it is really just a perky and adorable little plant worth being in any wildflower garden.