Waldmeister / woodruff

My family has a German visitor staying with us at the moment, and our visitor mentioned Waldmeister / woodruff as a fairly common ice cream flavor (among other uses) in Germany. Apparently it’s an herb that grows wild in the forest floor in Germany and I think maybe even widely across Eurasia. Has anyone grown it? Wikipedia says it has naturalized in isolated parts of North America. If it will grow in my location, I’d like to try it.

Got some right here I planted last year. I have been wondering how to use it my self. It does not taste like much at the moment.

Edit: I faintly detect a flavor of Jägermeister

The photo looks like sweet woodruff (Galium oderatum) which is a common groundcover plant in my area. I suppose I should find out how many species of woodruff there are and if all are edible? Never knew it could be used in ice cream! I wonder if they boil the woodruff in water and use the flavoring? Or steam it like they do to distill mint oil?

I think I read that the fresh plant has very little fragrance/taste, but that the dried leaves, especially if harvested during or right after bloom, are very fragrant and flavorful.

Carroll, where did you get your plant from?

Cousin, I grew it in Maine as a decorative ground cover. Did not know much about it. It also has lovely white flowers in spring. The umbrels of leaves are lovely.

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The flower nectar was used in Old Europe to make Mead.

The local garden center. zone 7 NJ. Best dried. I will keep that in mind.

I was confusing woodruff with wormwood! Don’t know why, but I’m glad to get it straightened out.

In the prior decade I sold and grew Sweet Woodruff. I was warned that it could be invasive by underground runners. Also, given our southern California climate is generally warmer than its native habitat I grew it in a fortified planter bed that only received about 2 hours sunlight in mid-morning. After a few years it filled in the 18" x 32" area nicely and provided a nice green patch with occasional flowers next to my east side gate. I never found it of culinary interest but some of my nursery customers enjoyed eating the flowers.

It likes shade.

Hi there. New forum member. I am from Germany, and your German visitor is right. In Germany it is a traditional flavoring for ice cream, Jello, sirop. The German name literally translates to ‘master of the forrest’, indicating it likes shade. I am in Zone 6b and have it as a groundcover. Spreads, but easily controlled.
To activate the aromatic compounds, harvest it preferably before it flowers, and dry it. It has a pleasant grassy aroma with hints of vanilla.


here in n. Maine it grows in the shade everywhere. never knew the name of it untill i saw this thread. my ditch near the road is covered w/ it . i harvest it and give it to my chickens. i noticed the fragrance it has. never thought it was edible. the chicks , ducks/ geese love it!

Oh, and it is also a key ingredient in Maibowle aka May punch (grown up version).

I am happy I planted this last year. Next year I think I will have a harvestable amount.

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With elderberry flowers too?