WOW – Catchweed bedstraw /Galium aparine

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.

note leaves, unique spiraly habitAnd 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.itty bitty flowers = itty bitty seeds!

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. note the takeover

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….

 

 

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