Cleavers (Galium aparine) is a culinary & medicinal herb found around the world in Europe, North America, Asia, Greenland, and Australia.
Common Names: hitchhikers, clivers, bedstraw, catchweed, stickyweed, sticky bob, stickybud, stickyback, sticky molly, robin-run-the-hedge, sticky willy, sticky willow, stickyjack, stickeljack, grip grass, sticky grass, bobby buttons, whippysticks, and velcro plant.
This species is a straggling climber, growing up to 3 m long, with slender 4-angled stems. Its narrow leaves can reach 7 cm long and are arranged in groups (whorls) of 6-8 (rarely 4) around the stem. The whole plant is covered in minute hooked hairs, and can cling to skin, fur and clothing. The flowers are tiny, white, 4-petalled tubes, developing into small round fruits, often borne in clusters of two or three. These fruits are also covered in hooked hairs which catch in the fur of passing animals or the clothes of humans.
- The leaves and stems of the plant can be cooked as a leaf vegetable if gathered before the fruits appear.
- Cleavers are in the same family as coffee. The fruits of cleavers have often been dried and roasted, and then used as a coffee substitute which contains less caffeine.
- Extracts from adult plants may be used as a flavoring for food or wine.
- Cleavers has long been used as a slimming aid, because of its diuretic properties.
- Cleavers most common use is as a cleansing herb for treating ailments from kidney and urinary disorders to infections and itching.
- It is excellent for skin conditions like eczema.
- Prefers shade to part sun. Prefers a loose moist leafy soil but can tolerate some dry soil.
- Seeds can be stratified for 30 days before planting or seeds can be sown directly, but germination may take up to 60 days without stratification.
- Seeds can be planted in late summer or early autumn. The seed can also be sown in spring though it may be very slow to germinate.
- Sow in pots or directly in the prepared seed bed.
- Seeds should be sown in moist soil, preferably a rich loam, with above-average fertility and pH of 5.5-8.0.
- Seeds must be buried to germinate, ideally at a depth of 2-10 mm.
- Note that this plant can be invasive, so it is advisable to grow the plant in a container.
Information is for educational and informational purposes only and may not be construed as medical advice. The information is not intended to replace medical advice or treatment offered by healthcare professionals.