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Hedge Bedstraw (Galium mollugo) Identification Guide

Hedge Bedstraw / Spring / Summer / Edible

Hedge Bedstraw is a fairly common, hedgerow plant, it’s related to cleavers and coffee.


Common Names

Hedge bedstraw, False baby’s breath,


Botanical Name

Galium mollugo


Scientific Classification

Kingdom – Plantae

Order – Gentianales

Family – Rubiaceae


Physical Characteristics for Hedge Bedstraw

Stems

The hairless stems have a square cross section. The stems can reach 1.5 metres in length.


Leaves

The small leaves are elliptical with a sharp point and they grow in whorls of 6-8 around the stem.

AnRo0002, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Flowers

The individual flowers are tiny up to 5mm across, they have 4 whitish petals each with a pointed tip. They normally flower between June and September.

AnRo0002, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Habitat

Hedgerows and fields, they prefer alkaline soils.


Known Hazards

None Known


Could be Confused with…

They do look very similar to Cleavers (Galium aparine) but Hedge Bedstraw lacks those sticky hairs.


Edible Uses

The taste is quite mild I use the young tips in salads, they do get bitter the older they are.

The seed can also be roasted and used as a coffee alternative in a similar way of Cleaver seeds.


Notes on Herbal Uses

Traditionally the fresh juice was used to treat epilepsy. But there’s not much evidence that it is useful.

Infusions made from the leaves are used to treat, thyroid conditions, kidney diseases and prostrate issues.


Extra notes from the Foragers

The name Bedstraw comes from their traditional use as a bedding material, as the plant dries it has a pleasant smell, which would deter insects, some suggest that Hedge Bedstraw was used to line Jesus’ cradle.

You can make a red dye out of the roots of this plant and it’s believed if you eat enough of the roots it will dye your bones red.


References:

https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Galium+mollugo

http://www.wildlifeinsight.com/british-bedstraws-rubiaceae/#:~:text=The%20key%20identification%20characteristics%20of%20Hedge%20Bedstraw%20(Galium%20mullugo)%20are,or%20slightly%20rough%20on%20angles

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galium_mollugo

https://www.first-nature.com/flowers/galium-mollugo.php

http://www.naturalherbs.ro/project/the-hedge-bedstraw/

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