Object: Bedstraw - Cheese Rennet - Galium sp.

Image Credits

Galium odoratum, Sweet Woodruff, Wikimedia Commons

Object Type(s)

Archeologists found Galium sp. seeds in the excavation of lower Manahattan that could be identified as in the strata for the 17th century.   There are more than 600 species of Galium, often called Bedstraw, and the specific species present in New Amsterdam has not yet been identified.

Galium odoratam,  'sweet woodruff' or 'sweetscented bedstraw' is native to much of Europe, and has naturalized in parts of the Hudson Valley, so it is possible that this plant may have been brought over by the European settlers and might be the species of these seeds.  More research is necessary to identify the specific species, but one can imagine that the Europeans, who  imported many plants may have chosen this one.   It contains coumarin, and can be used both in bedding for its sweet smell, and in cooking.


See a detailed article on the archeology of plant life in New Amsterdam by Joel Grossman, PhD. here.  Courtesy of the Holland Society of New York.