Galium aparine - cleavers bedstraw; catchweed bedstraw

Family: Rubiaceae
Wetland Indictor Status: FACU

General Species Description

Bedstraw is a weak stemed herb that wanders and trails along the ground and fallen logs. They are delicate trailers with square stems and leaves arranged in whorls. It is also easily recognizable due to the fact that it will stick to your clothing due to the tiny hooks that cover the plant.


The smooth margined leaves are attached directly to the stem in whorls of 6-8, though most often 8. They are strait and narrow to oblong, have short pointed tips, and are about 1-6 cm long.


The flowers of bedstraw grow in clusters of about 3-5 on the end of erect stalks that originate on the leaf axils. The flowers are approximately 1-2 mm wide, and bloom from April through June.


The fruits are globular shaped, two parted, and fused, and have hooked bristles.


Cleavers bedstraw can be found in a variety of habitats including thickets, coastal dunes, dry meadows, recent clear cuts, moist woodlands, and open woods. It is often but not exclusively found in shady areas.


Cleavers bedstraw is circumboreal and found in most of the temperate areas of North America.

Similar Species

The bedstraws are most easily confused with each other. The main difference that can be seen in Galium trifidum is that the leaves are borne in whorles of four and have blunt or rounded tips.

Ecological Value

Bedstraw contributes to the overall diversity of Northwestern wetlands.

Human Value

Bedstraw has long been used as bedding material, hence its name. It has also been used as a coffe substitute, tea, treatment of urinary tract infections, and as a dye.


Cooke, S. S. 1997. A Field Guide to the Common Wetland Plants of Western Washington & Northwestern Oregon. Seattle Audubon Society, Seattle WA, p. 114 Guard, B. J. 1995. Wetland Plants of Oregon and Washington. Lone Star Publishing, Richmond WA, p. 130, 199 Hitchcock, C.L. and A. Cronquist. 1973. Flora of the Pacific Northwest. University of Washington Press, Seattle WA, p. 449 Kozloff, Eugene N. 1995. Plants and Animals of the Pacific Northwest. University of Washington Press, Seattle WA, p. 59, 60 Pojar, J. and A. MacKinnon. 1994. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast, Washington, Oregon,British Columbia, and Alaska . Lone Star Publishing,Richmond WA p. 330

This page was created by: Maya O'Neil, August 1998

Return to Northwest Oregon Wetland Plants Project