Cleavers

Cleavers

Galium aparine

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Other names: Bedstraw
  • Medicinal: Yes
  • Culinary: No
  • Ceremonial: No
  • Parts Used: Leaves, Stems & Flowers
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About Cleavers

Cleavers (Galium aparine) is a wildly versatile herbaceous annual plant that belongs to the family Rubiaceae. A lot of names are associated with this edible plant such as sticky grass, stickeljack, grip grass, stickyweed, catchweed, sticky bob, and so forth. Cleavers have straggling stems that branch out and attach to nearby things with the aid of small hooked hair.

Cleavers contain stalkless, narrow, and whorled leaves that can be found in the group of 6 or 9 at each stem. The leaves possess small hooked hairs that help in attaching to whatever comes in the way of the plant. It has tiny white flowers that are arranged in the clusters of nine.

Anciently, they had been used as a medicine for treating the diseases of the kidney, urinary tract, and skin. Also, cleavers were a perfect remedy for gonorrhea and sometimes it was used as an oral contraceptive to prevent pregnancy. The legendary botanical is also quite effective in reducing weight as it induces diuresis which accounts for flushing the toxins out of the system.

Cleavers are packed with various biologically active ingredients like phenolic compounds, tannins, flavonoids, and alkaloids such as anthraquinones and coumarins that are responsible for the potency of cleavers as an efficacious medicinal plant.

Growing

Cleavers prefer dappled shade to the partial sunny region for the growth. They can do in dry soil but moist soil has proven to be its best friend.

Cleavers are quite easy to grow. Once its seeds begin to germinate, the plant does not ask for any further supervision and reproduces on its own. However, cleavers should be grown outdoors, i.e. in the backyard, as the plant is a creeper so it grabs whatever comes in its way.

The seeds can be grown any time in between spring and summer but to seek faster growth, ripe seeds are sown in summer. It seems good to stratify the seeds to break their dormancy and cover the sown seeds completely with the soil as light hinders in the germination of seeds.


Cleavers initiate blooming from summer and keeps up with the flowering process till fall. The cleavers plant encourages self-pollination.

The pollination of cleavers gives rise to fertilized seed pods that are covered with hooks. These hooks are helpful in seed dispersal as they can attach to the fur or wool.

The dispersed seeds then repeat the same cycle of germination, flowering, and pollination to pave the way for more growth.

Harvesting

The leaves and stems of cleavers are harvested during the flowering process i.e. in summer and early fall.


The leaves and stems of cleavers are harvested by a sharp pair of scissors. Only 75% of the plant is harvested which is visibly green, whereas the yellow part is left behind because it has little or no medicinal value.


The leaves of  the cleavers plant can be dried in a well-aired space where sunlight does not reach. Dried leaves are then crumpled and stored in an airtight jar to last for a year or so.

Usage

Cleavers are used in various forms to incorporate its benefits into the daily routine.

  • Tea - Fresh or dried chopped leaves are used to make cleavers tea.
  • Tincture - Infuse freshly chopped cleaver leaves in grain alcohol for 4 to 6 weeks. Strain the liquid and place it in a dark and dry place.
  • Decoction - Dried cleavers leaves are simmered in water for 45 minutes to make cleavers decoction.
  • Syrup - Dried cleaver leaves are simmered with sugar solution and thyme to formulate cleavers syrup.
  • Infused oil - Dried cleavers leaves are infused in grape seed oil to make Cleavers oil.