A Blooming Lovely Monday. Cleavers.


Welcome to another Blooming Lovely Monday.

Welcome to a Blooming Lovely Monday. The plant today is Cleavers.

As the seasons roll on and my garden begins to turn from blossoms to autumnal colours I am going to be looking at those things you might find that cling on through the winter months in preparation for the next growing season. I’ll also take a look at bulbs you might plant while the earth is still ready to accept them.

Today my post is about a plant that has grown in every garden I have ever owned and one that I don’t really like. Its official name is Galium Aparine, it is also known as Cleavers, Robin in the Hedge, Goosegrass, and Catch Weed. My children grew up to know it as Sticky Weed. They had great fun throwing handfuls of this stuff at each other because as the name says it stuck to their clothes.

This plant is a wild growth in many gardens. It self sets and will happily take over any part of your garden it can. Cleavers loves to climb on other things. The reaching strands it produces are a mess of tiny barbs and prickles that will cling to and stick on anything it can get hold of. It produces tiny white flowers in the spring and small green globes that drop off to make new sticky weeds where ever it can.

Do you think I don’t like this plant? Well, yes, you are right. Sticky Weed is a pain in the garden as it wipes out the many other plants it clings to. It is nearly as cruel as Blackberry, but I’ll talk about that later.

As the garden plants die back one good thing is you get the opportunity to find the things you don’t want to see thrive next year. For a long time I wasn’t a true gardener. I used to plant with hope in a waxing moon and see what happened. I found it incredibly hard to take out anything that made its way into my garden through self setting or by seeds in bird droppings, and so I ended up with a lot of weeds that often choked the lovely things I wanted to grow. I am a little hardened by experience now and know there are some things that I need to remove if I want parts of my garden to be mine and not an extension of wild ground. This plant is one of them. I’m afraid I can’t even suggest you grow this in pots, as if you do, the plant won’t thrive, but it will, given a couple of seasons dropping those tiny green globes, be invasive.

I wonder if by now you are already reaching for the clippers. But before you do here are some of the things that Sticky Weed is good at:

Cleavers is a known diuretic if a solution of it is drunk as a tea. In the past the plant was also used to make poultices and washes for skin ailments, for burns and wounds. Cleavers was said to be a perfect remedy for lumps and bumps on the skin. Ground to a pulp it was also said to help poisonous bites and stings.

In modern herbal treatments Cleavers has some very good reports in treating raised blood pressure. If you want to look into that do visit a qualified herbalist.

Though bitter in taste Cleavers is known as a good herb for the pot. The tender young sprouts should be collected in the spring, boiled and added to cooked Nettle shoots, and then they should be dressed with butter. This was said to be a tasty dish.
Cleavers were also said to have a slimming effect. Gerard, the 16th century herbalist, reported that “a potage made of Cleavers, a little mutton and oatmeal is good to cause lankness and keepe from fatnesse.”

This plant is a food for many butterfly larvae. The little flowers produce pollen for bees.
And if that isn’t enough the boiled roots could be used to make a scarlet crimson dye that in ancient times was popular with the Celts.

So, have you changed your mind? Are you saying, Daisy, you really ought to let a part of your garden support the Cleavers plant? Well, if I had a larger garden than I do, I probably would, as I have done in the past. But here, where my space is confined and over the fence there is a large wilderness area where Cleavers is rampant I don’t feel hugely guilty in trying to keep the sticky weed off my flowers.

The only religious lore I’ve found associated with Cleavers is that linked with the yellow flowering variety Lady’s Bedstraw. If I find more I’ll let you know.

Thanks for reading.
Daisy Banks

Image attribution.

“Goosegrass (Galium aparine), Loch Clunie – geograph.org.uk – 1505032” by Mike Pennington. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Goosegrass_(Galium_aparine),_Loch_Clunie_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1505032.jpg#/media/File:Goosegrass_(Galium_aparine),_Loch_Clunie_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1505032.jpg

12 thoughts on “A Blooming Lovely Monday. Cleavers.

  1. Daisy, I so admire your ability to know the plants and grow such beautiful gardens. My favorite part of the post was your distinction of your garden versus a wild ground. I also have some reluctance to remove plants or weed trees. I can do it now, but it still causes me a pang. I talk to the plants and try to keep them apprised of what’s coming. Love the name Robin in the Hedge– you have some great name in Britain.

    • Thanks for commenting, Flossie. I love the old country names too. I’ve always tried to have a wild spot in most of my gardens as its good for the wild life this one is really too small for
      that but there are quite a few plants that encourage the bees and butterflies. I’m hoping to have a lot more blooms on my buddliea next year.

  2. Yes, a good lesson for life too. If we don’t get rid of the hangers on, they end up ruining some of the good things that pop up. I guess I am my father’s daughter in that the weeds must go!
    Donna planted bulbs in this new yard yesterday. The weather man tells us it looks like we are in for a wet and cooler winter this year. So we are gardening accordingly!
    I love your garden bits on Mondays, Daisy. Reminds me when I do cross the pond it will have to be in summer!

  3. I think cleavers “sticky weed” is a plant I would have had fun with as a kid, but would certainly avoid as an adult gardener. Even so, it’s interesting to note that there are so many folk remedies and other herbal applications where it was used. Some day you must post pictures of your garden, Daisy. I’m sure it is lovely.

  4. No, unfortunately. Never. We planned for a moment for me to go visiting but then life got in the way.We exchanged emails and phone calls. She sent me books(paper books).A long story how I got to know her. My love for reading, after 1989 led me, via Mills&Boons, to start writing to her. A friendly lady and her husband the same. Both are died now. Sad

  5. Interesting info on this weed. Here it is known as “sticky”or “old woman’s dogs”. Funny name, the latter.
    I realize you are very fond of gardening. In fact, they say, that British people have a great love of flowers ( remember the Rose competition in Downton Abbey?). One of my British pen friends( died a few years ago, unfortunately) had a lovely garden in London. She also took part in flowers competitions.

    • Thanks for commenting, Carmen. I love that name, old woman’s dogs, fabulous. I’ll have to remember that one. Yes, I like gardens and gardening. I’ve never taken part in
      gardening competitons. I just like having a garden with fragrant flowers. I’m sorry about your friend. Did you ever visit her and see her garden in London?

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