Catchweed Bedstraw (Galium aparine)

also known as: Catchweed, Bedstraw, Goosegrass, Cleavers, Sticky Willy, etc.


Division - Magnoliaphyta
Class - Magnoliopsida
Subclass - Asteridae
Order - Rubiales
Family - Rubiaceae
Genus - Galium

Part of the bedstraw group, or Galium family. These were called bedstraws because they were used for bedstraw, simple enough, though it is hard to imagine wanting to be anywhere near catchweed. The name bedstraw is common to most of the genus and does not signify this particular species, though it is sometimes simply called it. I assume that the name goosegrass probably came from using it as a cheap substitute for goose-down, though it is a name commonly used for other plants as well, such as Eleusine indica, which is more commonly known by that name than the galium. Catchweed is probably the most appropriate single name for the species. "Catchweed bedstraw" covers the genus and species.

Galium aparine is a horrible weed. It scratches like a bitch if it touches softer skin, but won't damage the rougher skin of working fingers. The bristles seem to be more to make it cling to things than to defend the plant. It doesn't actually hurt all that much, so you might not notice how badly you are getting scratched until it does a number on you. Pulling out a whole area of it, it ripped up my forearms. It looked worse in person, as the flash washed out a lot of the redness. It almost looked like I had a bad case of poison ivy.


It is an annual and it can grow to about 6' per stalk and climbs through other plants. Over the ground, it tangles into dense nets. Destroy this plant when you spot it near your plants, vegetable or ornamental.









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