Crosswort

Botanical Name : Galium cruciata
Family: Rubiaceae
Genus: Cruciata
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Gentianales

Synonyms – Cruciata laevipes  and Cruciata chersonensis (Willd.) Ehrend.(The term laevipes refers to the smooth stalk but not hairless).

Common Names:Crosswort or Luc na croise

Habitat :  Crosswort is mostly found in Europe, including Britain, from the Netherlands to Poland, south to S. Europe, W. Asia and Siberia.Europe, including Britain, from the Netherlands to Poland, south to S. Europe, W. Asia and Siberia.It grows in meadows, road verges, riverbanks, scrub and open woodland, generally on well-drained calcareous soils.

Description:
Crosswort is a perennial sprawling plant which can grow to a height of 15–70 cm, spreads by seeds and stolons and has, unusually amongst this group, yellow hermaphrodite flowers.The flowers are not so showy, being only in short clusters of about eight together, in the axils of the upper whorls of leaves and of a dull, pale yellow. The inner flowers are male and soon fall off, whilst the outer are bisexual and produce the fruit. The flowers smell of honey. It is arbuscular mycorrhizal in which the fungus penetrates the cortical cells of the roots.

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The stems are slender and scarcely branched, 1 to 2 feet long, and bear soft and downy leaves oblong in shape, arranged four in a whorl, hence the name Crosswort.

The whorls of four leaves, only two in each group are real leaves, the other two being stipules.

Cultivation: 
Prefers a loose moist leafy soil in some shade. Tolerates dry soils but the leaves quickly become scorched when growing in full sun. This species does not thrive in a hot climate. The flowers have a sweet powerful perfume.

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Propagation: 
Seed – best sown in situ as soon as it is ripe in late summer. The seed can also be sown in spring though it may be very slow to germinate. Division in spring or throughout the growing season if the plants are kept well watered. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.

Edible Uses:Leaves are eaten raw or cooked

Medicinal Uses:
The herb is astringent, diuretic and vulnerary. It is not much used nowadays, but was considered a very good wound herb for both external and internal use. A decoction of the leaves has also been used to treat obstructions of the stomach and bowels, to stimulate the appetite and as a remedy for rheumatism, rupture and dropsy. A number of species in this genus contain asperuloside, a substance that produces coumarin and gives the scent of new-mown hay as the plant dries. Asperuloside can be converted into prostaglandins (hormone-like compounds that stimulate the uterus and affect blood vessels), making the genus of great interest to the pharmaceutical industry.

This species though now practically unused, was considered a very good wound herb for both inward and outward wounds. A decoction of the leaves in wine was also used for obstructions in the stomach or bowels and to stimulate appetite. It was also recommended as a remedy for rupture, rheumatism and dropsy.

Bald’s Leechbook recommended crosswort as a cure for headaches.

 

Other Uses:
A red dye is obtained from the root.

In Romanian folklore, it is called sânziana and it is linked to the Sânziene fairies and their festival is on June 24th.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cruciata_laevipes
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Cruciata+laevipes
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/c/cross117.html

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