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Galium aparine

Galium aparine L.

Galium agreste Wallr. var. echinospermum Wallr.

Galium aparine L. ssp. spurium (L.) Simonkai

Galium aparine L. var. echinospermum (Wallr.) Farw.

Galium aparine L. var. intermedium (Merr.) Briq.

Galium aparine L. var. minor Hook.

Galium aparine L. var. vaillantii (DC.) Koch

Galium spurium L.

Galium spurium L. var. echinospermum (Wallr.) Hayek

Galium spurium L. var. vaillantii (DC.) Gren. & Godr.

Galium spurium L. var. vaillantii (DC.) G. Beck

Galium vaillantii DC.

Catchweed Bedstraw

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderGentianalesGentians, coffee, gardenias, frangipani, many others
FamilyRubiaceaeCoffee, madder, and bedstraw family
GenusGaliumFrom Greek gala, “milk,” because some Galium species were used to curdle milk
SpeciesaparineMeans ‘cleavers’

About plant names...

Catchweed bedstraw is native to North America and Eurasia. Usually I prefer to photograph plants in the wild, but I put this one on the scanner to illustrate the tiny hooks that make it stick like velcro to everything it touches. This and related plants are called bedstraws because a fragrant-smelling yellow-flowered species, Galium verum, was used to stuff mattresses in medieval times.

Some members of Galium:

 

Galium aparine (Catchweed Bedstraw)

Leaf underside. · 6/9/2010 · Tom and Susan’s, Pepperell, MA

Galium aparine (Catchweed Bedstraw)

6/9/2010 · Tom and Susan’s, Pepperell, MA

  You are here
Galium aparine

Galium mollugo

Galium odoratum
Common Name

Catchweed Bedstraw

Smooth Bedstraw

Sweet Woodruff
Plant Stem is square stem, purplish in the spring, green as the plant matures. All parts of the plant are covered with tiny velcro-like hooks. Up to 3' (1 m), vinelike. Stems are square and smooth. Low-growing plant may reach 20" (50 cm) in length, but only about 8" (20 cm) in height. Plants have an appealing sweet scent
Flowers 4-petaled, white, ⅛" (3.2 mm) around, appearing from May to July. Hundreds of tiny white 4-petaled flowers ⅛" (3.2 mm) across, producing white masses. Small white flowers, each ⅛-¼" (4-7 mm) in diameter, are raised above the leaves on thin stalks
Leaves Whorls of 6-8 leaves every few inches, each 1-2" (2.5-5 cm) long. In whorls of 6-8, 1-1½" (2.5-3.8 cm) long, smooth. ¾-1¾" (2-5 cm) long, arranged in whorls of 6-9
Range/ Zones

USDA Zones: 4-8
Type Wild Wild Wild
Occurrence Common Common Common

 

Identification: The first thing that stands out about catchweed bedstraw is the regular whorls of 6-8 leaves every few inches. They give it a neat, orderly appearance. Leaves are 1-2" (2.5-5 cm) long. On closer inspection, there is the perfectly square stem, which may be purplish in the spring, but is green as the plant matures. The 4-petaled flowers, which are white and only ⅛" (3.2 mm) around, are barely noticeable, appearing from May to July. But touch this plant and you’ll immediately know why it is called catchweed bedstraw or stickywilly. Every part of it—stems, leaves, flowers, and seed pods—are covered with tiny velcro-like hooks. They give every part of the plant a sandpapery feel. The hooks allow the plant to clamber over other plants, reaching heights of 5' (1.5 m) in some cases.

Edibility: Tender young shoot tips are edible raw or added to soups and stews, though many people find them too bitter or object to their texture. They can also be harvested before flowering and cooked as leaf vegetables, a more widely enjoyed alternative. Dried and lightly roasted seeds can serve as a coffee substitute.

Medical: Stickywilly has many alleged medical uses, too many to make sense of.

Online References:

Galium aparine on Missouriplants.com

Galium aparine on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

Galium aparine at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Galium aparine at Illinois Wildflowers

Galium aparine at Southeastern Arizona Wildflowers and the Plants of the Sonoran Desert

Galium aparine on the Connecticut Botanical Society's Connecticut wildflowers site

Galium aparine at Southeastern Arizona Wildflowers and the Plants of the Sonoran Desert

Galium aparine on CalPhotos

Galium aparine on the USDA Forest Service's Fire Effects Information Database

Galium aparine on Vascular Plants of the Gila Wilderness

Galium aparine on SEINet—the Southwest Environmental Information Network

Galium aparine (Catchweed Bedstraw)

6/9/2010 · Tom and Susan’s, Pepperell, MA

Galium aparine description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Aug 2013.

© FloraFinder.org. All rights reserved.


 

Galium aparine (Catchweed Bedstraw)

6/1/2013 · Beaver Brook Assn Conservation Lands, Rte. 130, Hollis, NH
≈ 3½ × 3" (8.6 × 8.4 cm)

Galium aparine (Catchweed Bedstraw)

6/9/2010 · Tom and Susan’s, Pepperell, MA

Range:

About this map...