Fine Art

Galium aparine

Galium aparine (*)

Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Cladus: Asterids
Cladus: Lamiids
Ordo: Gentianales

Familia: Rubiaceae
Subfamilia: Rubioideae
Tribus: Rubieae
Genus: Galium
Species: Galium aparine

Galium aparine L.

Linnaeus, C. 1753. Species Plantarum. Tomus I: 108. Reference page.

Vernacular names
azərbaycanca: İlişkən qatıqotu
català: Apegalosa, Rébola, Apegalós, Herba de gallina, Herba remuguera, Raspallengua, Rèvola
čeština: svízel přítula
Cymraeg: Llau`r offeiriad
dansk: Burre-Snerre
Deutsch: Kletten-Labkraut, Gewöhnliches Kletten-Labkraut, Klettenlabkraut, Klettlabkraut, Klebriges Labkraut, Klebkraut

Ελληνικά, Κυπριακά: Κολλιτσία

English: cleavers, clivers, goosegrass, catchweed, stickyweed, robin-run-the-hedge, sticky willy, sticky willow, sticky geordies, velcro weed, grip grass
Esperanto: Alkroĉa galio
español: amor de hortelano, azotalenguas, gallo, lapa, lártago, presera, amigo de caminantes, amor del hortelano, amor de ortolano, apegaloso, apegamanos, azotalengua, busca-medias, cadillo, chapizo, cuajaleches, cuajo, enredadera, galio, galio de flor blanca, garduña, hierba de gallina, hierba pegajosa, hierba presa, lampazo menor, lapas, largalo, lepra, lárgalo, meloja, pajiro, pegadizos, pegamanos, pega ropas, pelosa, planta del amor, presura, rabia, rapia, rascalenguas, raspalenguas, rébola, redondos, repegón, saupeños, tiña, yerba pegajosa
euskara: Ziabelar latz, Ziabelar latza
suomi: Kierumatara
français: Gaillet gratteron, Gaillet accrochant
Gaeilge: Garbhlus
Gàidhlig: Garbh-lus
hrvatski: Priljepača
hornjoserbsce: Lěpjacy sydrik
magyar: Ragadós galaj
italiano: Attaccamano
ქართული: ბეგიაური
lietuvių: Kibusis lipikas
македонски: Лепавец
Nederlands: Kleefkruid
norsk nynorsk: Klengjemaure
ирон: Хæрдог
polski: Przytulia czepna
română: Lipicioasă
русский: Подмаренник цепкий, Подмаренник льновый
Scots: Bluid-tongue
slovenčina: lipkavec obyčajný
српски / srpski: Прилипача/Prilipača
svenska: Snärjmåra, Strandsnärjmåra, Snarpegräs, Snärjgräs, Vattenbinda, Vanlig snärjmåra, Snärjegräs, Vitblommig snärjmåra, Snärpegräs
Türkçe: Çobansüzeği
українська: Підмаренник чіпкий
中文(简体): 猪殃殃
中文(繁體): 豬殃殃
中文(臺灣): 豬殃殃
中文: 原拉拉藤

Galium aparine, with common names including cleavers, clivers, catchweed and sticky willy among others, is an annual, herbaceous plant of the family Rubiaceae.


Galium aparine is known by a variety of common names in English. The include hitchhikers, cleavers,[2] clivers, bedstraw, (small) goosegrass (not to be confused with other plants known as goosegrass),[2] catchweed,[2] stickyweed, sticky bob,[3] stickybud, stickyback, sticky molly, robin-run-the-hedge, sticky willy,[2][4] sticky willow, stickyjack, stickeljack, grip grass, sticky grass, bobby buttons, whippysticks, and velcro plant.[5]

Galium is Dioscorides’ name for the plant. It is derived from the Greek word for ‘milk’, because the flowers of Galium verum were used to curdle milk in cheese making.[6] Aparine is a name used by Theophrastus. It means 'clinging' or 'seizing',[6] and is derived from the Greek απαίρω apairo 'lay hold of, seize', itself coming from από 'from' + αίρω 'pull to lift'.[7]

Cleavers are annuals with creeping straggling stems which branch and grow along the ground and over other plants. They attach themselves with the small hooked hairs which grow out of the stems and leaves. The stems can reach up to three feet or longer, and are angular or square shaped.[8] The leaves are simple, narrowly oblanceolate to linear, and borne in whorls of six to eight.[8][9][10]

Cleavers have tiny, star-shaped, white to greenish flowers, which emerge from early spring to summer. The flowers are clustered in groups of two or three, and are borne out of the leaf axils.[11] The corolla bears 4 petals.[12] The globular fruits are burrs which grow one to three seeds clustered together; they are covered with hooked hairs which cling to animal fur, aiding in seed dispersal.[11]

The species is native to a wide region of Europe, North Africa and Asia from Britain and the Canary Islands to Japan. It is now naturalized throughout most of the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, South America, Australia, New Zealand, some oceanic islands and scattered locations in Africa. Whether it is native to North America is a question of some debate, but it is considered to be native there in most literature.[13] It is considered a noxious weed in many places.[14][15]
Effects on the body

For some people, skin contact with Galium aparine causes an unpleasant localized rash[16] known as contact dermatitis.

Chemical constituents of Galium aparine include: iridoid glycosides such as asperulosidic acid and 10-deacetylasperulosidic acid;[17] asperuloside; monotropein; aucubin; alkaloids such as caffeine; flavonoids; coumarins; organic acids such as citric acid and a red dye; phenolics such as phenolic acid;[18] and anthraquinone derivatives such as the aldehyde nordamnacanthal (1,3-dihydroxy-anthraquinone-2-al).[19]

Galium aparine is edible. The leaves and stems of the plant can be cooked as a leaf vegetable if gathered before the fruits appear. However, the numerous small hooks which cover the plant and give it its clinging nature can make it less palatable if eaten raw.[20][21] Geese frequently consume G. aparine, hence one of its other common names, "goosegrass".[22] Cleavers are in the same family as coffee. The fruits of cleavers have often been dried and roasted, and then used as a coffee substitute which contains less caffeine.[8][23]
Folk medicine

Poultices and washes made from cleavers were traditionally used to treat a variety of skin ailments, light wounds and burns.[24] As a pulp, it has been used to relieve poisonous bites and stings.[25] To make a poultice, the entire plant is used, and applied directly to the affected area.[26] Making a tea with the dried leaves is most common.[27] It can be brewed hot or cold. For a cold infusion, steep in water and refrigerate for 24–48 hours.
Other uses

Dioscorides reported that ancient Greek shepherds would use the barbed stems of cleavers to make a "rough sieve", which could be used to strain milk. Carl Linnaeus later reported the same usage in Sweden, a tradition that is still practiced in modern times.[24][28]

In Europe, the dried, matted foliage of the plant was once used to stuff mattresses. Several of the bedstraws were used for this purpose because the clinging hairs cause the branches to stick together, which enables the mattress filling to maintain a uniform thickness.[21][29] The roots of cleavers can be used to make a permanent red dye.[30]

Children in the British Isles have historically used cleavers as a form of entertainment. The tendency for the leaves and stems to adhere to clothing is used in various forms of play, such as mock camouflage and various pranks.

The plant can be found growing in hedges and waste places, limestone scree and as a garden weed.[31][32]

G. aparine prefers moist soils and can exist in areas with poor drainage. It reportedly flourishes in heavy soils with above-average nitrogen and phosphorus content, and prefers soils with a pH value between 5.5 and 8.0. G. aparine is often found in post-fire plant communities in the United States, likely developing from onsite seed and therefore rendering controlled burns as an ineffective means of removing G. aparine in areas where it is considered a noxious weed.[33]

Many insects feed on cleavers including aphids and spittlebugs.

The anthraquinone aldehyde nordamnacanthal (1,3-dihydroxy-anthraquinone-2-al) present in G. aparine has an antifeedant activity against Spodoptera litura, the Oriental leafworm moth, a species which is considered an agricultural pest.[19] The Acari Cecidophyes rouhollahi can be found on G. aparine.[34]

Cleavers, creeping together over the tops of other plants on the forest floor.

Leaves and stem of G. aparine. Notice the angular stem and whorled oblong/lanceolate leaves.

Flower and fruit of G. aparine. The fruit is an adhesive burr that clings to animals passing by to spread the seed.

Galium aparine, closeup with leaves and fruit, from Cologne, Germany

Closeup of G. aparine leaf. Note the hooked barbs used to climb over substrate.

Closeup of the hooked barb (160x)


"The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species". Retrieved 20 June 2015.
"Galium aparine". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 20 June 2015.
"Plant Details for a Galium aparine L".
Viney, Michael. "Another Life: Sometimes stickyback is just the weed we need". 24 Aug 2013. Irish Retrieved 18 June 2017.
"Catchweed Bedstraw Management Guidelines--UC IPM".
Gledhill, David (2008). "The Names of Plants". Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521866453 (hardback), ISBN 9780521685535 (paperback). pp 52, 174
"Galium aparine | CLIMBERS".
Duke, James A. (2001). Handbook of Edible Weeds. CRC Press. p. 100. ISBN 9780849329463.
Rabeler, Richard K. (2007). Gleason's Plants of Michigan. University of Michigan Press. p. 299. ISBN 9780472032464.
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Evanoff, K. (2013). "Bedstraw is a weed that bites back". Tribune Chronicle. Archived from the original on 2014-04-13.[Link Evanoff]
Iridoids from Galium aparine. D Deliorman, I Çalis, and F Ergun, Pharmaceutical Biology, 2001, Vol. 39, No. 3, Pages 234–235, doi:10.1076/phbi.
Rahman, Atta-ur (2005). Studies in Natural Products Chemistry: Bioactive Natural Products (Part L). Gulf Publishing Company. p. 291. ISBN 9780444521712.
Antifeedant activity of an anthraquinone aldehyde in Galium aparine L. against Spodoptera litura F. Masanori Morimoto, Kumiko Tanimoto, Akiko Sakatani and Koichiro Komai, Phytochemistry, May 2002, Volume 60, Issue 2, Pages 163–166, doi:10.1016/S0031-9422(02)00095-X
Elias, Thomas S.; Dykeman, Peter A. (1990). Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide. ISBN 9780806974880. Retrieved 2013-08-14.
Tull, Delena. "Edible and Useful Plants of Texas and the Southwest." 1999, p. 145
Dukes, James A. (2002). The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook. Macmillan. p. 102. ISBN 9780312981518.
Wood, Matthew (2008). "Galium aparine. Cleavers. Lady's Bedstraw. Goosegrass.". The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants. North Atlantic Books. p. 267. ISBN 9781556436925.
Grieve, Maud (1971). "Clivers". A Modern Herbal: The Medicinal, Culinary, Cosmetic and Economic Properties, Cultivation and Folk-lore of Herbs, Grasses, Fungi, Shrubs, & Trees with All Their Modern Scientific Uses, Volume 1. Dover Publications. p. 207. ISBN 9780486227986.
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Gucker, Corey. "Galium aparine". Fire Effects Information System. United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
A new species of Cecidophyes (Acari: Eriophyidae) from Galium aparine (Rubiaceae) with notes on its biology and potential as a biological control agent for Galium spurium. Charnie Craemer, Rouhollah Sobhian, Alec S. McClay and James W. Amrine Jr., International Journal of Acarology, 1999, Volume 25, Issue 4, pages 255–263, doi:10.1080/01647959908684162

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