Botanical Name: Galium aparine Family: Rubiaceae

Common name(s): Cleavers, Clivers, Clives, Goose Grass, Bedstraw


  • Annual; wild, considered a weed | Zones 4-7 | Creeping/climbing plant that can grow up to 6′ | Very small white flowers in late spring/summer | Small, hooked hairs on leaves and stems | Root can be used as a permanent red dye
  • Grows everywhere, likes moisture


Harvest from spring to fall


Infusion: Pour 1 cup boiling water over 2-3 teaspoonful of dried herb and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Drink 3x/day.

Tincture: Take 2 – 4ml 3x/day

Juice: The juiced (or pulverized) plant is stronger medicine than an infusion. Take 1 teaspoon, 2 – 3x/day as a tonic, or can be used in external preparations (compress, cream, hair rinse)

Food: Can be eaten as a green, like spinach.

Oil: Infuse wilted fresh greens in oil and use directly or to make a cream.


Constituents: Coumarins, glycosides, tannins, citric acid

Actions: Alterative, aperient, astringent, diuretic, refrigerant,tonic

Uses: Lymphatic cleanser, cystitis or gravel, bed wetting, to break fevers, skin conditions, like dandruff and psoriasis, but also burns and inflammations.

Combinations: Poke root* and echinacea for the lymphatic system; Yellow Dock and Burdock for skin conditions.

Cautions: Cleavers can cause a rash in some individuals. If you break out in a rash, DO NOT ingest the plant. Cleavers is also highly astringent and should only be taken internally for up to two weeks, then skip one or two weeks before taking again.


  • Bitter, cool


*Poke weed (recommended in more than one source as a combination with cleavers) is a very powerful and toxic plant. Please read the information at the link provided. R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

2 thoughts on “Cleavers

  • May 24, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    Chris, Dandelion Forest looks lovely! I love the idea of a permaculture food forest! Though I’m still at the setting up my veggie beds and fighting the weeds stage, I have planted a few fruit trees and berry bushes. I’ve got a long way to go yet, and don’t know nearly enough about wild edibles. So glad you’ve got the opportunity to practice your skills in this area!


  • June 29, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    Thanks, Deanna! I’ve found it is one step at a time. And that the plants teach you. I don’t think you can ever stop learning from them!

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