(Galium aparine)

Conservation Status
  IUCN Red List

not listed


N5 - Secure

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland


FACU - Facultative upland

  Northcentral & Northeast

FACU - Facultative upland


Cleavers is an exotic, weedy, weak-stemmed, herbaceous plant. The nativity of cleavers is a matter of some debate. Some sources maintain that it is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa, and that it has been introduced sporadically into North America. Most sources consider it to be native to North America. The Germplasm Resource Information Network (GRIN) shows it native in North America only in Alabama, naturalized elsewhere. Either way, it now occurs in every state in the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii, in every bordering Canadian province, in Mexico, and in South America.

Cleavers is a 4 to 40 long, more or less scrambling, annual forb that rises on multiple stems from shallow roots.

The stems are scrambling, slender, weak, 4-angled, hollow, and usually profusely branched. The angles have short, stiff, hooked, downward-pointing hairs.

The leaves are in stalkless and in whorls of usually 8, sometimes 6 or 7. The blades are linear or linear inversely lance-shaped, to 3 long, and less than wide. They have a single prominent vein running from the base to the tip. There is an abrupt, short, sharp, firm point at the tip. The upper surface is rough with firm, stiff, hooked hairs. The lower surface has short, stiff, backward-pointing hairs on the midvein. The margins are untoothed and have short, stiff, backward-pointing hairs.

The inflorescences are clusters of 3 to 5 flowers rising directly from upper leaf axils, and sometimes an elongated stalk that rises from an upper leaf axil and has several clusters.

The flowers are about wide. They consist of 4 white petals with pointed tips, 4 sepals that are shorter than the petals, 4 short stamens, and 2 short, pale yellow styles. There are 2 carpels at the base of the flower. The carpels are joined together, green, and covered with stiff, hooked hairs.

The fruit is a grayish-brown, ball-like carpel, joined in pairs, usually covered with hooked hairs, rarely hairless, containing 1 seed.




Scrambling, 4 to 40 long


Flower Color




Similar Species


False baby’s breath (Galium mollugo) also has leaves in whorls of 6 to 8. However, the stem, leaves, and carpels are hairless. The inflorescence has many flowers and is larger, highly branched, and showy. The flowers are larger. In Minnesota it has been recorded only in St. Louis County.

Rough bedstraw (Galium asprellum) has many branches. The leaves on the stem are in whorls of 6, those on the branches in whorls of 4 or 5.


Moist. Woods. Shade.




June to August


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 22, 28, 29, 30.








Very common

  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Asteranae  


Gentianales (gentians, dogbanes, madders, and allies)  


Rubiaceae (madder)  
  Subfamily Rubioideae  
  Tribe Rubieae  


Galium (bedstraws)  

Subordinate Taxa






Galium agreste var. echinospermum

Galium aparine var. echinospermum

Galium aparine var. intermedium

Galium aparine var. minor

Galium aparine var. vaillantii

Galium spurium var. echinospermum

Galium spurium var. vaillantii

Galium spurium var. vaillantii

Galium vaillantii


Common Names


annual bedstraw


catch-weed bedstraw

catchweed bedstraw



goose grass





white hedge


The hooked hairs on the leaves and stem grab onto (cleave to) clothing, bird feathers, and animal fur, giving this plant it’s common name.













The upper angle where the leaf stalk meets the stem.



The female reproductive organ of a flower, consisting of an ovary, styles, and stigmas.



Climbing awkwardly over adjacent vegetation or structures.



An outer floral leaf, usually green but sometimes colored, at the base of a flower.

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    cleavers   cleavers  
    cleavers   cleavers  



  Galium aparine ANNUAL BEDSTRAW
Frank Mayfield
  Galium aparine ANNUAL BEDSTRAW  



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Other Videos
  Edible plants Cleavers Galium aparine

Uploaded on May 28, 2011

Cleavers have had many uses throughout history. Here are the main features for identification and to distinguish Cleavers from close impostors.

  Cleavers (Galium Aparine) / Stickywilly - 2012-06-23

Published on Jun 25, 2012

Galium aparine is a herbaceous annual plant of the family Rubiaceae. It is native to North America and Eurasia. It has several common names, including Cleavers, Clivers, Goosegrass, Stickywilly, Sticky willow, Stickyjack, Stickyweed, Stickyleaf, Catchweed, Robin-run-the-hedge, Coachweed, and Bedstraw.

Kleefkruid (Galium aparine) is een plant uit de sterbladigenfamilie (Rubiaceae).




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Agassiz Dunes SNA (MN DNR)

Avon Hills Forest SNA, North Unit

Baker Park Reserve

Banning State Park

Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park

Big Stone Lake State Park

Big Woods Heritage Forest WMA

Blaine Preserve SNA

Blaine Wetland Sanctuary

Blue Devil Valley SNA

Blue Mounds State Park

Boot Lake SNA

Brownsville Bluff SNA

Bur Oak WMA

Camden State Park

Cannon River Trout Lily SNA

Cannon River Wilderness Area

Carley State Park

Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center

Carver Park Reserve

Cedar Mountain SNA

Chamberlain Woods SNA

Cherry Grove Blind Valley SNA

Chimney Rock SNA

Clear Lake SNA

Cleary Lake Regional Park

Clifton E. French Regional Park

Cottonwood River Prairie SNA

Crow Wing State Park

Crystal Spring SNA

Des Moines River SNA

Edward Velishek Memorial WMA

Elm Creek Park Reserve

Englund Ecotone SNA

Falls Creek SNA

Flandrau State Park

Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park

Fort Ridgely State Park

Franconia Bluffs SNA

Frontenac State Park

Glacial Lakes Preserve

Gneiss Outcrops SNA

Great River Bluffs State Park

Grey Cloud Dunes SNA

Hampton Woods WMA

Hardscrabble Woods / MG Tusler Sanctuary

Hastings Sand Coulee SNA

Holthe Prairie SNA

Hyland Lake Park Reserve

Iron Horse Prairie SNA

John A. Latsch State Park

John Murtaugh Memorial WMA

John Peter Hoffman Spring Brook Valley WMA

Kasota Prairie

Keller Regional Park

Kilen Woods State Park

Laible Woods

Lake Alexander Woods SNA, South Unit

Lake Bronson State Park

Lake Byllesby Regional Park

Lake Carlos State Park

Lake Elmo Park Reserve

Lake Louise State Park

Lake Maria State Park

Lake Rebecca Park Reserve

Lebanon Hills Regional Park

Lester Lake SNA

Lost 40 SNA

Lost Valley Prairie SNA

Mary Schmidt Crawford Woods SNA

McCarthy Beach State Park

Miesville Ravine Park Reserve

Mille Lacs Kathio State Park

Mille Lacs Moraine SNA

Minneopa State Park

Minnesota Valley NWR, Black Dog Unit

Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area, Lawrence Unit

Mississippi River County Park

Mound Prairie SNA

Mound Spring Prairie SNA, North Unit

Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve

Myre-Big Island State Park

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

Ney Nature Center

Oronoco Prairie SNA

Oxbow Park & Zollman Zoo

P.N. and G.M. Nelson Wildlife Sanctuary

Partch Woods SNA

Phelps Lake WMA

Pigeon River Cliffs

Pilot Knob

Pin Oak Prairie SNA

Pine Bend Bluffs SNA

Prairie Creek WMA, Koester Prairie Unit

Prairie Creek Woods SNA

Prairie Smoke Dunes SNA

Rice Lake State Park

Ripley Esker SNA

Ritter Farm Park

River Terrace Prairie SNA

River Warren Outcrops SNA

Robert Ney Memorial Park Reserve

Rockville County Park

Rushford Sand Barrens SNA

St. Croix Savanna SNA

Sakatah Lake State Park

Savage Fen SNA

Savanna Portage State Park

Scenic State Park

Seminary Fen SNA

Seven Mile Creek County Park

Seven Sisters Prairie

Seven Springs WMA

Shooting Star Prairie SNA

Sibley State Park

Spring Beauty Northern Hardwoods SNA

Spring Creek Prairie SNA

Spring Lake Park Reserve

Spring Lake Regional Park

Springbrook Nature Center

Staffanson Prairie

Stanley Eddy Memorial Park Reserve

Sunfish Lake Park

Swedes Forest SNA

Tamarack Nature Center

Thompson County Park

Tiedemann WMA

Townsend Woods SNA

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Upper Sioux Agency State Park

Vermillion Highlands Research Recreation and WMA

Vermillion River WMA

Whitetail Woods Regional Park

Whitewater State Park

Wild Indigo SNA

Wild River State Park

William O’Brien State Park

Wolsfeld Woods SNA

Wood-Rill SNA

Woodland Trails Regional Park

Zumbro Falls Woods SNA







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