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Cleavers is the most common Galium sp. (Bedstraw) in Illinois. Other common names for Galium aparine include Goosegrass and Annual Bedstraw. It is a rather weedy plant with insignificant flowers. Cleavers has up to 8 leaves per whorl, while other Bedstraws usually have only 4 or 6 leaves per whorl. The carpels, leaves, and stems of Cleavers have an abundance of stiff hairs that can cling readily to clothing, fur, or adjacent vegetation; this distinguishes it from about one-half of the other Bedstraws, which have smooth to slightly rough carpels and foliage. Another species with white flowers, Galium mollugo (Hedge Bedstraw), has whorls of 6-8 leaves like Cleavers. However, Hedge Bedstraw has smooth carpels and foliage and it produces a large terminal inflorescence with an abundance of flowers. In the past, various Bedstraws were used to curdle milk in the production of cheese because the foliage is somewhat acidic.


Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers


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