Cleavers, Galium aparine
Rubiaceae or Madder Family


Spiny hairs on leaf


Low, sprawling, sometimes semi-erect, plant with square stems.  Leaves 1-3 inches long and narrow with a pointy tip, in whorls of 4-8 around the stem.  Flowers tiny, white, usually 1-3 in a cluster, with 4 petals.  Fruits tiny green burs.  Leaves, stems and fruits covered with sharp, stiff, curved hairs that enable the plant to stick like Velcro to clothes and skin.

Native. Likes shady to partly sunny areas in woods and thickets.  Occasional in open areas of the Park.

The genus Galium is distinctive with its whorled leaves, four-petaled flowers, and square stems.  Among members of this genus only cleavers and rough bedstraw (G. asprellum) have pure white flowers and prickly stems and leaves.  Rough bedstraw has smaller (less than 1 inch) leaves and more flowers in each cluster.