The word “woodruff” is derived from the Anglo-Saxon wudurofe, from wudu, or woods, referring to the herb’s natural habitat deep in the dark forests of Europe.
In Germany’s Black Forest, where sweet woodruff grows prolifically, the herb is known as “Waldmeister”,” or “Master of the Forest.”. The designation “sweet” refers to the vanilla-like, new freshly-mown hay fragrance the leaves and flowers impart when dried. This is due to the presence of Coumarin, which, like patchouli, has the ability to be a fixative to other fragrances in addition to its own aromatic contribution to perfumes and potpourris. “Ruff” ” derives from the French rovelle, meaning wheel, describing the arrangement of the leaves around the stem. In Old French, it was known as muge-de-boys or “musk of the woods.”