Cleavers - Galium aparine

Why get to know this plant:

Has specificity for hips and urinary tract. Provides lymphatic drainage and breaks up lymphatic congestion, particularly in the pelvis region. It is soothing to urinary tract during irritations. Relaxing and soothing can be a diurectic that reduces edema caused by water retention. For skin diseases, it combines well with burdock, yellow dock, and dandelion. Reduces edema of the joints and is useful in rheumatoid arthritis.

Where this plant grows:

Grows commonly in gardens as a weed, and in moist, shady areas of forest and stream banks, often near a body of water

 

See the little hairs on the leaves that give the cleaver the sticky velcro like feeling.

See the little hairs on the leaves that give the cleaver the sticky velcro like feeling.

How to identify cleavers:

Leaves and stem are sticky feeling to touch, the stem is flimsy and the plants stick to each other and other plants around them. Leaves are arranged in whorls of 6-8 around the stem. Flowers are small and white and bloom in May to June. Fruity hairy nutlet pairs (2-lobed burs) covered with hooked bristles,

Parts used:

Aerial parts. Gather in spring before it goes to flower

Medicinal Actions:

Little white flowers indicate that the plant is past the best time to harvest. Harvest early before flowers.

Little white flowers indicate that the plant is past the best time to harvest. Harvest early before flowers.

Diuretic, vulnerary, astringent (mild), Anti-lithic, Lymphatic cleanser

Tips from experience:

Note: hot water, aged plant and dried plant all decrease the medicinal value of the plant, fresh is best. Infusion can be made with 2-4 tsp of dried or fresh plant per cup of water infused for 1- mins.
Fresh is best eaten in salads or in juice with celery, nettle and dandelion for a spring tonic.

Constituents:

Volatile oils, coumarins, rubichloric acid and asperuloside glycosides, enzymes, tannins, galiosin (red substance)

Rich in vitamin C they are best harvested fresh in spring as a spring tonic

 

Cautions and look-a-likes:

No toxicity. Positively identify this plant by looking at the tiered levels of leaves that are whorl-ed and sticky feeling of the cleavers to touch.

People with kidney problems or poor circulation are recommended not to use this plant.

References:

Pojar & Mackinnon. (1994) Plants of Coastal British Columbia: Including Washington, Oregon & Alaska. p.330

Mackinnon et al. (2009) Edible & Medicinal Plants of Canada. Lone Pine Press. p. 268-269