Eastern Shore Food Lab

Galium aparine - Cleavers

Cleavers tends to adhere to passerby with its numerous trichomes, so watch out!

We encourage Galium aparine as a groundcover in our forest garden. It is beneficial to wildlife and you can even find it in winter, if you’re looking for a green snack. 

Scientific Name: Galium aparine

Common Name: Cleavers (also known as catchweed bedstraw, sticky willy, goosegrass)

Plant Family: Rubiaceae

Etymology: Galium comes from the Greek word ‘gala’, for milk (some species of Galium can be used to curdle milk and make cheese), while aparine is the Greek name for cleavers.

Edible Parts

Leaves are best when young. Seeds can be roasted as a coffee substitute.

**If the plant irritates your skin, DON’T eat it!!!**

Medicinal Uses

Use fruit and leaves to lessen bloating, treat jaundice, reduce lymph swellings. Can be infused in tea to ease insomnia or the juice can be used as an ointment or drunk as a diuretic. Also used against diarrhea and rheumatism and as a cleaning agent.

Additional Information

Velcro was inspired by a plant with hooked trichomes similar to G. aparine. Decocting the root produces a red dye!

Planting Considerations

  • USDA Hardiness Zones: 3-7
  • Forest garden layer: Herbaceous - prefers moist, shady, nutrient-rich areas

Sources