Definition of woodruff in US English:



  • A white-flowered plant of the bedstraw family with whorled leaves, smelling of new-mown hay when dried or crushed.

    Genera Galium and Asperula, family Rubiaceae: several species, especially sweet woodruff (G. odoratum)

    • ‘Fresh, they add decoration and delicate flavours, for instance woodruff in German wine-cups, or make soothing hot drinks.’
    • ‘In shady parts of the garden, lily of the valley, woodruff, bluebells and variegated honesty are in flower.’
    • ‘A case report linked teas made from three coumarm-containing herbs - tonka bean, melilot, and woodruff - with high prothrombm time, although the type and amount of coumann was not reported.’
    • ‘The taste is not especially pleasant, so it's generally flavoured with raspberry or woodruff.’
    • ‘Forget-me-nots are easily grown, as are sweet woodruff and Welsh poppies.’
    • ‘I'll often incorporate lavender, or woodruff - it's a rather dull-looking herb, but in the olden days they used to put it in linen cupboards because, as it dries, the smell gets stronger and stronger.’
    • ‘Plants like hosta, fern, sweet woodruff and columbine feel more at easy in the shadow.’
    • ‘It is shady, screened from view by rhododendrons., hydrangeas and tall ferns, with a groundcover of sweet woodruff that smothers all weeds.’
    • ‘First, though, I rip out the woodruff and lay the earth bare.’
    • ‘Adventurous herbalists like to experiment with basil, oregano and rosemary, also including the more exotic plants like sweet woodruff, lemon grass and borage.’
    • ‘Wild garlic, woodruff, ivy, wild strawberry and violets provide the splendorous colour that gives the wood one of its many appealing qualities.’
    • ‘And my hellebores, sweet woodruff, veronica, foxgloves and Candytuft remained a healthy green all winter, as did the primrose foliage, and that of the smaller geraniums.’
    • ‘Ferns are especially handsome as accents among swaths of lower-growing plants such as sweet woodruff or oxalis or growing beside ponds.’
    • ‘Actually I tucked a few bearberry plants among them as a salve to his feelings, and that spread almost as satisfyingly as the woodruff.’
    • ‘Many herbs can help to deter flies, such as lavender, sweet woodruff, lemon verbena, star anise, tansy, any of the mints, rosemary, bay, chamomile, rue, elder, southernwood and basil.’
    • ‘Tonka beans, sweet woodruff, and melilot are natural sources of coumarins commonly found in herbal teas.’
    • ‘Those who enjoy dinner plate sized dahlias, or even beds of exuberantly increasing sweet woodruff need not apply.’
    • ‘I plan a carpet of sweet woodruff to fill in the bare spots,. both because it spreads well and tolerates foot traffic and because it looks so wonderful covered in starry white blooms in late spring.’


Old English wudurofe, from wudu ‘wood’ + an element of unknown meaning.