Sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum; Zones 5-8). A wonderful groundcover, this European native bears lacy, white flowers in late spring. A naturally moist or irrigated site is best. Both leaves and flowers have a fresh scent and make a delicately sweet tea. In Germany, the flowering tops are traditionally used to make May wine. To make your own May wine, steep flowers in Riesling wine overnight, strain out the woodruff, and add strawberries. Serve chilled.
Avoid consuming sweet woodruff if you have circulatory problems or if you are pregnant.
Leda Meredith is a botanist, writer and instructor at the New York Botanical Garden and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, specializing in edible and medicinal plants. She is the author of Botany, Ballet, & Dinner from Scratch: A Memoir with Recipes (Heliotrope Books, 2008).
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