|Cleavers, Clivers, Goosegrass, Sticky Willie Galium aparine Rubiaceae
Description: A sprawling green annual, one of the first to appear in the spring. The leaves and square stems have small hooks or prickles which stick to clothing and fur. The flowers are white, small and inconspicuous with four petals. The fruit are green , ripening to dark purple and also stick to clothing and fur (their method of distribution). It grows in hedges, ditches, waste land, shingle,,gardens and just about anywhere. If you need to weed it out do not waste it – make a large pot of infusion and drink to give a good spring cleanse to the lymphatic system. Related species include madder, and lady’s bedstraw
Part used: Aerial parts.
Location: Everywhere! See above.
Harvesting, drying and preparation: Best used fresh – infuse, juice or gently sweat as a spinach-like vegetable. Cut before seeds form any time from spring to autumn. The dried herb does not yield the same therapeutic effects as the fresh.
Coumarins, Tannins, Glycosides, Citric acid, Iridoids including asperuloside, Polyphenolic acids, Anthraquinones(only in the root), Alkanes, Flavonoids
Skin disorders such as seborrhea, eczema and psoriasis
Swollen lymph glands
Strong detoxifying agent
Kidney stones and other urinary problems
Cooling drink in fevers
Compresses for burns, grazes, ulcers and skin inflammation
Dandruff and scaling scalp problems
The aerial parts can be used as a ‘spinach’, not recommended raw due to the prickles. The seeds have traditionally been roasted in Celtic regions as a ‘coffee’, which is apparently a general prophylactic.
Asperula odorata / Galium odorata Rubiaceae
Botanical description: Perennial up to 45 cm high. The stem is square. The narrow elliptical leaves are held in whorls and the flowers are small and white
Parts used: Aerial parts
Harvesting, cultivation and habitat: Native to Europe, also found in Asia and North Africa. It prefers woodland and shaded habitats. It can be propagated from seed or by division. The herb is gather in the spring when in flower.
History and folklore: The dried herb smells strongly of coumarins, or of newly cut grass. It was traditionally used to scent linen and was steeped in white whine or added in brewing ale to increase inebriation.
Iridoids, Coumarins, Tannins, Anthraquinones, Flavonoids
Traditional and current uses
Varicose veins and phlebitis
Tension and tension headaches
Externally as a poultice for liver enlargement
As a douche for pruritis vulvae
Contraindications: Do not use alongside anti-coagulant medication
Galium verum Rubiaceae
A perennial plant with narrow leaves in whorls of 6-12 that encircle the squarish stem. The flowers are yellow or yellow/green and are held in long spikes at the top of stems that reach up to 100 cm (often smaller). The fruit is hairless and turns from green to black. It grows on rough grassland, dunes, dry grassy heaths and in hedgerows.
Part used: Flowering tops , dried quickly and used within a few weeks since it does not keep well.
History and folklore: This plant has been used to stuff mattresses, hence the name bedstraw. It can also be used as a substitute for rennet in cheese making, and as a colouring agent in the process.
Tannins, glycosides, silicic acid, other acids, enzymes, saponins may be present.
Traditional and current uses:
Retention of urine
Externallu to treat wounds and skin conditions
Powder inhaled for nosebleeds
To ease labour and childbirth; possibly encourages oxytocin production