Botanical Name: Galium spurium
Species: G. spurium
Synonyms: G. vaillantii.DC
Common Name: False Cleavers
Habitat: Galium spurium is native to Europe, including Britain, from Scandanavia south and east to N. Africa and W. Asia. It grows in fields, gardens, soil heaps, wasteland.
Galium spurium is an annual herb growing to 0.8 m (2ft 7in). Stem limp, often climbing, 4-edged, rough, hook-haired, nodes hairy. Base of hooked hairs not oval.
Leaves are regular (actinomorphic), usually 6–9 whorled leaves; stalkless. Blade linear–lanceolate, bristle-tipped, fragile, hook-haired, with entire margins.
It is in flower between June to September. ( Corolla wheel-shaped, lime green–greenish white, approx. 1 mm (0.04 in.) broad, fused, 4-lobed. Calyx lacking. Stamens 4. Pistil of 2 fused carpels, styles 2. Inflorescence a lax, 3–9-flowered, axillary cyme.)
Fruits are 2-parted, hook-haired or occasionally glabrous schizocarp, carpels hemispherical, 2–3 mm (0.08–0.12 in.) broad. Base of hooked hairs not swollen.
The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Flies, beetles. The plant is self-fertile.
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.
Edible Uses: Leaves are eaten – raw or cooked. A famine food, used as a last resort.
Both Asperuloside (a terpenoid) and Coumarin (a benzopyrone) occur in some species of Galium. 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.
Other Uses: A red dye is obtained from the root.