northern bedstraw

(Galium boreale)

Conservation Status
northern bedstraw
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNR - Unranked

SNR - Unranked


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland


FAC - Facultative

  Northcentral & Northeast

FAC - Facultative


Northern bedstraw is a 6 to 40 tall, erect, perennial forb that rises on numerous stems from a creeping rhizome.

The stems are ascending, erect, or reclining on the ground. They are slender, 4-angled, hollow, and many branched. They are usually hairless except for a short beard of hairs just below the nodes. Sometimes they are rough with minute, stiff hairs. They do not have hooked hairs.

The leaves are stalkless and in whorls of 4. They are linear lance-shaped, to 1¾long, and up to 3 16 wide. There are often two leaves opposite each other within a whorl that are significantly longer than the other two. The leaf blades have 3 veins, 1 prominent midvein and 2 less prominent but plainly visible lateral veins, running from the base to the tip. They are rounded at the tip. The upper surface is green and hairless. The lower surface is light green and sparsely hairy. The margins are untoothed and have a fringe of hairs. The leaves do not have hooked hairs.

The inflorescence is a showy, branched, about 4 long and wide, round-topped cluster (cyme) of numerous stalked flowers at the end of the stem. Each division of the cyme is subtended by a pair of elliptic bracts.

The flowers are to ¼ wide. There are 4 white to cream-colored petals fused at the base into a short tube then separated into 4 short lobes with pointed tips. There are 4 stamens with white filaments and yellowish-brown anthers, and 2 styles. There are 2 carpels at the base of the flower. The carpels are light green, hairy, and joined together. They do not have hooked hairs.

The fruit is a green, sometimes hairy, ball-like, 1-seeded capsule, joined in pairs. It does not have hooked hairs.




6 to 40


Flower Color


White to cream


Similar Species


Northern bedstraw often has two leaves opposite each other within a whorl that are significantly longer than the other two. Other bedstraws have leaves within a whorl that are identical in size.

Licorice bedstraw (Galium circaezans var. hypomalacum) has much wider leaves and 3 prominent parallel veins.


Dry to wet. Woods, forests, prairies, meadows, fields.




June to July


Pests and Diseases






Distribution Map



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








Common and widespread

  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 boreale var. hyssopifolium

Galium boreale var. intermedium

Galium boreale var. linearifolium

Galium boreale var. scabrum

Galium boreale ssp. septentrionale

Galium boreale var. typicum

Galium hyssopifolium

Galium septentrionale

Galium strictum


Common Names


northern bedstraw













Modified leaf at the base of a flower stalk, flower cluster, or inflorescence.



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



A branched, flat-topped or convex flower cluster in which the terminal flower opens first and the outermost flowers open last.



A horizontal, usually underground stem. It serves as a reproductive structure, producing roots below and shoots above at the nodes.

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    northern bedstraw   northern bedstraw  


    northern bedstraw      


    northern bedstraw   northern bedstraw  


    northern bedstraw   northern bedstraw  
    northern bedstraw      



  Northern Bedstraw
Andree Reno Sanborn
  Northern Bedstraw  

Galium boreale




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  Northern Bedstraw large group

Published on Jul 24, 2013

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Afton State Park

Anna Gronseth Prairie

Badoura Jack Pine Woodland SNA

Banning State Park

Belgium Prairie

Bertram Chain of Lakes Regional Park

Big Stone Lake State Park

Blanket Flower Prairie SNA

Blazing Star Prairie

Blue Devil Valley SNA

Boot Lake SNA

Buffalo River State Park

Bunker Hills Regional Park

Butternut Valley Prairie SNA

Cambria WMA

Camden State Park

Cannon River Wilderness Area

Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center

Carver Park Reserve

Cedar Mountain SNA

Charles A. Lindbergh State Park

Crow Wing State Park

Crystal Spring SNA

Des Moines River SNA

Dry Sand WMA

Englund Ecotone SNA

Falls Creek SNA

Felton Prairie SNA, Bicentennial Unit

Felton WMA

Fort Ridgely State Park

Foxhome Prairie

Franconia Bluffs SNA

Frenchman’s Bluff SNA

Frontenac State Park

Glacial Lakes State Park

Glendalough State Park

Glynn Prairie SNA

Gneiss Outcrops SNA

Great River Bluffs State Park

Greenwater Lake SNA

Hardscrabble Woods / MG Tusler Sanctuary

Hayes Lake State Park

Hemlock Ravine SNA

Hole-in-the-Mountain Prairie

Hyland Lake Park Reserve

Hythecker Prairie SNA

Iron Horse Prairie SNA

Iron Springs Bog SNA

Itasca State Park

Itasca Wilderness Sanctuary SNA

Jay Cooke State Park

Jensen Memorial WMA

John A. Latsch State Park

John Murtaugh Memorial WMA

Joseph A. Tauer Prairie SNA

Kasota Prairie

Kasota Prairie SNA

Kilen Woods State Park

King’s and Queen’s Bluff SNA

Lake Bemidji State Park

Lake Bronson State Park

Lake Carlos State Park

Lake Elmo Park Reserve

Lake Louise State Park

Lake Maria State Park

Langhei Prairie SNA

Lebanon Hills Regional Park

Leif Mountain

Lester Lake SNA

Lost 40 SNA

Malmberg Prairie SNA

Maplewood State Park

Margherita Preserve-Audubon Prairie

McCarthy Beach State Park

Mille Lacs Kathio State Park

Mille Lacs Moraine SNA

Miller Prairie, West Unit

Minneopa State Park

Morton Outcrops SNA

Mound Spring Prairie SNA, North Unit

Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Pavia Unit

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Rengstorf Unit

Northern Tallgrass Prairie NWR, Touch the Sky Prairie Unit

Old Mill State Park

Otter Tail Prairie SNA

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

Paul Bunyan Savanna

Prairie Coteau SNA

Prairie Creek WMA, Koester Prairie Unit

Prairie Smoke Dunes SNA

Quarry Park SNA

Racine Prairie SNA

Regal Meadow

Ripley Esker SNA

Rockville County Park

Roscoe Prairie SNA

Rushford Sand Barrens SNA

St. Croix Savanna SNA

St. Croix State Park

Sand Prairie Wildlife Management and Environmental Education Area

Sandpiper Prairie SNA

Santee Prairie SNA

Savage Fen SNA

Schaefer Prairie

Schoolcraft State Park

Sedan Brook Prairie SNA

Seven Sisters Prairie

Sheepberry Fen

Shooting Star Prairie SNA

Sibley State Park

Spring Lake Park Reserve

Staffanson Prairie

Strandness Prairie

Swedes Forest SNA

Tiedemann WMA

Tribute WMA

Twin Lakes SNA

Twin Valley Prairie SNA

Two Rivers Aspen Prairie Parkland SNA

Tympanuchus Prairie

Upper Sioux Agency State Park

Valley View Park

Verlyn Marth Memorial Prairie SNA

Whitewater State Park

Wild Indigo SNA

Wild River State Park

William O’Brien State Park

Zumbro Falls Woods SNA







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