Galium aparine (stickywilly, bedstraw, catchweed bedstraw, cleaverwort, scarthgrass, goosegrass, white hedge)

description:  summer or winter annual

place of origin:  origin unclear, possibly native of Eurasia.

urban habitat: commonly found in fields, along fences, disturbed sites, moist places; thrives in many types of soil and shaded areas.

ecological function: disturbance-adapted colonizer; food for insects and other small wildlife.

history: Widely naturalized around the world, Galium aparine can be found in North America as far south as Texas and Florida and as far north as Alaska and Greenland. The plant is edible, its leaves often used as an herb and its seeds roasted and consumed as a coffee substitute. Extracts from its leaves have long been used medicinally by the many cultures in which it grows, used to treat a wide variety of ailments including tonsillitis, hepatitis, and cystitis. Native American tribes used the plant as a laxative, dermatological aid, diuretic, and to treat hemorrhaging, gonorrhea, kidney and bladder problems. It was also used as soap. The plant has also been used as general detoxifying agent in the treatment of certain types of cancer.