Latin Name: Galium aparine
Description: An annual plant. The stems are bristly and sticky. They are square in cross section. It trails over other plants. It climbs by hooked bristles. The leaves are bristly and sprout from the stems in clusters of 6-8. The leaves do not have stalks. The flowers are small and white. The seed pods are bristly and have 2 round segments about 3 mm wide.
Notes: In Europe, the dried, matted foliage of the plant was once used to stuff mattresses. Several of the bedstraws were used for this purpose, due to the fact that the clinging hairs cause the branches to stick together, which enables the mattress filling to maintain a uniform thickness.
Edibility Rating out of 5: 2
Medicinal Rating out of 5: 3
Edible Uses: The tender young shoot tips – raw or cooked as a pot-herb. A rather bitter flavour that some people find unpalatable, they are best used in the spring. They make a useful addition to vegetable soups. It is said that using this plant as a vegetable has a slimming effect on the body. The roasted seed is one of the best substitutes, it merely needs to be dried and lightly roasted and has much the flavour of coffee. A decoction of the whole dried plant gives a drink equal to tea.
Warnings: The sap of the plant can cause contact dermatitis in sensitive people.
Medicinal Uses: Alterative; Antiphlogistic; Aperient; Astringent; Cancer; Depurative; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Febrifuge; Homeopathy; Skin; Tonic; Vulnerary.
Medicinal Information: Goosegrass has a long history of domestic medicinal use and is also used widely by modern herbalists. A valuable diuretic, it is often taken to treat skin problems such as seborrhoea, eczema and psoriasis, and as a general detoxifying agent in serious illnesses such as cancer. The whole plant, excluding the root, is alterative, antiphlogistic, aperient, astringent, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge, tonic and vulnerary. It is harvested as it comes into flower and can be used fresh or dried for later use. It is used both internally and externally in the treatment of a wide range of ailments, including as a poultice for wounds, ulcers and many other skin problems, and as a decoction for insomnia and cases where a strong diuretic is beneficial. It has been shown of benefit in the treatment of glandular fever, ME, tonsillitis, hepatitis, cystitis etc. The plant is often used as part of a spring tonic drink with other herbs. A number of species in this genus contain asperuloside, a substance that produces coumarin and gives the scent of new-mown hay as the plant dries. Asperuloside can be converted into prostaglandins (hormone-like compounds that stimulate the uterus and affect blood vessels), making the genus of great interest to the pharmaceutical industry. A homeopathic remedy has been made from the plant.
Cleanser; Dye; Filter; Tinder.
A red dye is obtained from a decoction of the root. The dried plant is used as a tinder. The plant can be rubbed on the hands to remove pitch (tar). The stems are placed in a layer 8cm or more thick and then used as a sieve for filtering liquids.