Sweet Woodruff Plant

The sweet woodruff plant is called Waldmeister or Maikraut in Germany.

The Sweet Woodruff Plant is an herb that is used in Germany in baking, cooking, and in beverages. Here are tips on how to grow this plant in your back yard and how to use it seasonally.

Germany goes green in the month of May. The theme is Sweet Woodruff (Waldmeister or Maikraut), an aromatic plant that grows and blooms during the end of April and beginning of May. It can be found in more open, sun-lit forests—where it grows best in shaded areas with loose, moist soil. When introduced to your garden, it will grow like weeds—providing a nice climbing ground cover that decorates your garden with little white flowers. You can use the sweet woodruff herb in your baking and cooking, plus in beverages—like the May Wine Punch.

Sweet Woodruff Plant Sweet Woodruff Plant growing in gardens

Use of Sweet Woodruff Plant

Sweet woodruff offers so many wonderful and delicious options. It reminds me a little of the movie Forrest Gump, when all the recipes with shrimp were named. With sweet woodruff, you can make cakes, syrup, gelatin, punch, lemonade and so much more. You can even dry bunches of woodruff upside down and then place them in small linen sacks to keep the moths and insects away in your closet and pantry. If you combine the dried woodruff with some dried lavender it smells even better. Isn’t it great what nature has to offer? All you need to know is “how” to use its gifts.

sweet woodruff cheese cake IMG_8590

I remember when I was a child, that shortly before the First of May, the men would go into the woods on an early Sunday morning to find woodruff for the Maibowle (May wine Punch).  Attached to their belts, they each had a thin cord which was stored in their pockets. Once they found their beloved plant, they would cut it and use the cord to tie it in a bunch. When they came out of the woods, they would walk down the street proudly showing their three, four, or five bunches of Maikraut hanging from their waists.

Of course after this hard work, they first had to join the Frühschoppen for a pre-lunch drink at their local pub before delivering this valuable herb to the women waiting at home to use it in baking and cooking. To reward the ladies for their patience, the men would surprise them with a bouquet of yellow blooming Schlüsselblumen (Himmelsschlüssel)—cowslip flowers (primula veris) which they picked along the way in the meadows.


(Thanks to photographer Matthias Kehrein for providing the picture of the cowslip)

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