Cleavers

Cleavers_jpgThe Rubiaceae family commonly called the Madder or Bedstraw family consists of 630 genera and 10,400 species of shrubs, lianas, trees and a few herbs.  The family provides us with coffee (Coffea), quinine (Cinchona), ipecacuanha (Cephaelis), yohimbine (Pausinystalia), dyes, timber and ornamental shrubs (Gardenia, for example). Cleavers can be found on rich , moist, usually shaded ground of woods and edges, meadows and waste areas. Cleavers is edible as a cooked green, salad or coffee.  The tender young shoots are excellent boiled and served with butter; cooked shoots can be chilled and added to salad.  The ripe fruit slow-roasted until dark brown and ground makes an outstanding coffee substitute.Cleavers is reported to have medicinal value.  The aerial parts collected during the flowering season and dried, as well as the fresh, flowering herb or the fresh or dried whole plant are useful.  A tea prepared from the plant can be used applied topically for skin rashes or ulcers; taken internally as a diuretic or “dropsy”.

OtherCommonName:

Spring Cleavers, Bedstraw, Goosegrass, Barweed

ScientificName:

Gallium aparine

Community:

Thicket

PlantStatus:

Native

LifeSpan:

Annual

PlantHeight:

4 to 40 inches

FruitingTime:

Late May to July

Distribution:

Statewide outside the Pine Barrens in New Jersey

FloweringTime:

Late April to mid June

IdentifyingCharacteristics:

Stems weak, reclines on surrounding vegetation, seldom many branches ~ Bristles on square stems ~ Leaves in whorls, narrow ~ Flower clusters 3-5 flowers, 4 petals, on leaf axil or short stems, greenish white ~ Fruit tiny, 2-lobed, dry bristle