THIS weed, Galium aparine of the madder family (Rubiaceae) is all over the weedy spots in my backyard. It’s common names are also hilarious – “catchweed” “sticky willy”, and “velcro plant”; which are tell-tale to the plant’s most annoying habit – it’s velcro-like leaves. Even the scientific species name “aparine” comes from a Latin word “to seize”; indicating it’s sticky nature.
And true to many of its common names, it snags on everything, don’t let this one out of your control! It grows into a long gangly plant and the velcro-like leaves and eventually, seeds will grip and snag on all your plants as you try to pull it out. Just stay ahead of it!
However, I find it very easy to pull, it has pretty weak stems and has a weak root system. It has a lovely fresh crispy scent, like hay. The plants itself are even kind of fun since you can rip them up and roll them into a ball, the velcro makes it stick to itself! Be careful though when pulling, I found pulling it out bare-handed that it left me with rashy arms, probably due to the sap and velcro-like leaves. And rolling it into kickballs.
Supposedly it was used in medicine in an infusion by Native Americans for itchy skin and poison ivy. The young leaves make a nice tea (haven’t tried this one yet…), can be eaten steamed with butter (makes everything better) and can even be eaten raw – though i can’t imagine swallowing it. Some critters really like to eat it – people use it as feed for donkeys and geese, apparently some dogs like it too.
I even hear that the dried and roasted fruits can be used to make coffee-like substitute- it’s in the same family. Maybe when coffee’s beyond my budget….