Plants of our natural flora often do not find their place in our backyard gardens. Here is a fragrant bedstraw (Galium odoratum), he is a fragrant woodruff (Asperula odorata) - a frequenter of English and Dutch gardens - we only find it in botanical collections. The plant, of course, looks modest, but if you need to plant something in a large array in the shade, you cannot find a better ground cover. Its flowers, although small, due to their white color, are clearly visible against the background of a green carpet, even in a deep shade. And the bloom is very long - in May-June. Add to this the pleasant aroma of greenery and flowers, which indicated its specific name - fragrant.
The source of inspiration for the great Strauss
Woodruff was called in Ancient Russia "the herb of sixteen names" (the most famous of them are sweet cherry, sweet bed, heart friend, liver grass, May blossom, May grass, tea grass, forest tea, madder zapashna (Ukrainian)). Moreover, fragrant woodruff is considered her seventeenth name.
The first written botanical description of fragrant woodruff in Russia became known simultaneously with the first mention of Novgorod in chronicles, in the period around 854-859, the time of the beginning of the Russian princely dynasty and the emergence of Russia. The description was made by the Russian Magi, who at that distant time already knew this plant and highly appreciated its medicinal properties, calling it "star-growing herb". Botanists will appreciate fragrant woodruff only after eight centuries
Now this plant, perhaps, is more familiar to musicians than gardeners. There is a wonderful square dance by Johann Strauss the son, which is called “Fragrant woodruff”. On its basis, an operetta was staged, which had great success during the composer's lifetime. The Fragrant Yasmennik square dance was orchestrated in all three acts of the operetta of the same name. The author himself conducted the first concert performance of the Fragrant Woodruff overture in the Golden Hall of the Vienna Musical Association in December 1895. Vienna was ecstatic, newspapers noted that the brilliant overture was greeted by the music community and the public with a "hurricane ovation", and critics called the square dance "not just commendable, but simply magnificent."
Why the great composer gave such a name to his musical masterpiece, one can only guess. But it is known for sure that Strauss was very fond of aromatic drinks based on fragrant woodruff, with which he preferred to treat his heart. In those years in Alsace, fragrant "May wine" was made from woodruff, which, of course, was well known in Austria as well.
From music to botany
Fragrant bedstraw (Galium odoratum) - the most decorative representative of the genus bedstraw of the madder family (Rubiaceae).
Latin name Galium comes from Greek gala - milk, and is given to the plant for its ability to cause rapid clotting of milk when the plant is eaten by cows. And the Russian bedstraw - for its great resemblance to its distant relative in the family, madder (Rubia), see Marena.
This is a wild plant mainly in the temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere (Europe, the Mediterranean, the Caucasus, Western and Eastern Siberia, Eastern Kazakhstan, Asia Minor, Iran, the Far East, China, Japan). Naturalized successfully in North America.
Fragrant bedstraw is a perennial herb with thin and long rhizomes, from which there are 2-3 tetrahedral bare stems 10-40 cm high.The leaves are small, dark green, oblong or broadly lanceolate, pointed, collected in whorls of 6-10, with one protruding middle vein, over the entire surface or only along the edge and vein, set with straight, clinging bristles directed towards the apex. The leaves are fragrant, winter-green. Last year's stems and leaves die off and are replaced in the spring.The flowers are white, small, funnel-shaped, about 6 mm in diameter, with a bend of 4 pointed lobes, also fragrant.
When growing a bedstraw, it is necessary to adhere to the natural growing conditions. Like any other plant growing under the forest canopy, the fragrant bedstraw prefers shade or partial shade. In the sun, the vegetation cover is thinned out - the sweet bedstraw has winter-green leaves, which "burn" in the sun with a lack of moisture, and the plant eventually dies.
The bedstraw loves a fairly moist, loose soil, its roots spread in the uppermost surface layer of the soil. However, competing for moisture with the woody plants under which it usually grows, it withstands short periods of drought.
The most suitable for the plant are loose loams from weakly acidic to slightly alkaline (pH 5.6-7.5). No top dressing is applied for the plant, only mulch with compost. Weed very carefully, trying not to damage the surface rhizomes.
The plant is propagated mainly vegetatively - by dividing the rhizomes in spring or at the end of August. It grows well in width spontaneously, mastering new shady areas.
Reproduction by seeds in the Moscow region is complicated by the fact that very few seeds are set. They ripen at the end of August and require autumn sowing, since during storage they significantly lose their germination after a year. Crops must be covered with leaf litter in the fall. Young plants that have emerged in spring do not bloom in the first year. In the fall, they are again covered with a dry leaf, as a bedstraw usually hibernates in nature in the herbaceous forest cover. Flowering occurs in a year and adult plants become completely winter-hardy.
In the case of spring sowing, the seeds require cold stratification at 0 + 2oC. Imported seeds are sometimes found on sale, while the plant appears under an outdated name. fragrant asperula, or fragrant woodruff(Asperula odorata).
Like any plant of natural flora, the bedstraw is most appropriate in Naturgarden style gardens. It looks great in forest areas, planted in large clumps. Looks good in shady gardens in combination with lungwort, lamb, brunner, corydalis, anemones, liverwort, spring-flowering small-bulbous plants - forest trees, chionodox.
It can be planted in mixborders in partial shade - early and long flowering allows them to knock out hosts that unfold their leaves late, already in the midst of flowering bedstraw.
Choosing damp places in nature, the fragrant bedstraw is not uncommon along forest rivers and streams. In the garden, they can similarly decorate the banks of shady ponds.
The plant has long been used as a medicinal plant. The first written mention of fragrant woodruff dates back to 854. It began to be widely used in folk medicine from the middle of the 16th century. The dried herb has a pleasant smell of coumarin, which contains 0.83%. In addition to coumarin, it has a high content of other biologically active substances that determine the hypotensive, antimicrobial, calming effect of the plant.
Abroad, the seeds of sweet bedstraw are sold in the department of vegetable crops, where the plant is considered spicy and aromatic. It is used to give a pleasant taste and aroma to cheeses, vegetable and fruit salads, all kinds of vegetable dishes, compotes. They are flavored with tea, tobacco, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. The plant's fresh flowers are a good decoration for dishes and a popular ingredient in flower cuisine. It is only necessary to observe moderation, since the plant is slightly poisonous.
Recipes for drinks with fragrant woodruff (bedstraw):
- Fruit punch with woodruff
- Strong filling with woodruff
- Wine with fragrant woodruff