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.