Catchweed bedstraw

Encyclopedia Article

Catchweed bedstraw           Galium aparine L.

Family:  Rubiaceae (Madder family)

Life cycle:  winter annual

Habitat:  No-till fields, landscapes, disturbed habitats

General description:  Mat forming or ascending stems; stems are square with backward turning bristles that allow the plant to cling to other plants and objects. Leaves are narrow, sessile, oval to lanceolate, in whorls of 4 to 8 at each node, with spiny hairs on lower midrib. Flowers are small with 4 white petals. Fruit has two round halves covered with hooked hairs.

Key ID traits: Square stem with bristles, whorled leaves.

Similar species:  Carpetweed has a similar growth habit and whorled leaves, but carpetweed has a round, smooth stem and glabrous leaves.

Miscellaneous:  The name bedstraw comes from the use of the plant as mattress filling because the bristles on the stem minimized matting. In Europe, bedstraw spp. are known as cleavers.

square stem and narrow, sessile, oval to lanceolate leaves of catchweed bedstraw
Square stem and narrow, sessile, oval to lanceolate leaves of catchweed bedstraw.  Leaves are found in a whorled leaf arrangement.


Catchweed bedstraw has multiple ascending stems developing from the crown.

carpetweed flowers
Carpetweed flowers

catchweed bedstraw flower