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Galium aparine - L.

Common Name Goosegrass, Coachweed, Catchweed, Stickywilly
Family Rubiaceae
USDA hardiness 3-7
Known Hazards The sap of the plant can cause contact dermatitis in sensitive people[222]. Can cause severe skin irritation [301].
Habitats Hedgerows and as a weed of cultivated land[7]. Moist and grassy places on most types of soil[17].
Range Europe, including Britain, from Scandanavia south and east to Spain, N. and W. Asia.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun
Galium aparine Goosegrass, Coachweed, Catchweed, Stickywilly

Galium aparine Goosegrass, Coachweed, Catchweed, Stickywilly


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Galium aparine is a ANNUAL growing to 1.2 m (4ft) by 3 m (9ft 10in).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 3 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from June to August, and the seeds ripen from August to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Flies, beetles. The plant is self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Aparine hispida, Aparine vulgaris, Asterophyllum aparine, Galium charoides

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; not Deep Shade; Hedgerow;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Shoots
Edible Uses: Coffee  Tea

The tender young shoot tips - raw or cooked as a pot-herb[5, 7, 53, 55, 62, 172, 183]. A rather bitter flavour that some people find unpalatable[244], they are best used in the spring[178]. They make a useful addition to vegetable soups[7, 244]. It is said that using this plant as a vegetable has a slimming effect on the body[238]. The roasted seed is a coffee substitute[2, 53, 62]. One of the best substitutes, it merely needs to be dried and lightly roasted and has much the flavour of coffee[4, 115, 183]. A decoction of the whole dried plant gives a drink equal to tea[2, 4].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Alterative  Antiphlogistic  Aperient  Astringent  Cancer  Depurative  Diaphoretic  Diuretic  
Eczema  Febrifuge  Homeopathy  Skin  Tonic  Vulnerary

Goosegrass has a long history of domestic medicinal use and is also used widely by modern herbalists. A valuable diuretic, it is often taken to treat skin problems such as seborrhoea, eczema and psoriasis, and as a general detoxifying agent in serious illnesses such as cancer[254]. The whole plant, excluding the root, is alterative, antiphlogistic, aperient, astringent, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge, tonic and vulnerary[4, 7, 9, 21, 165, 218, 222]. It is harvested in May and June as it comes into flower and can be used fresh or dried for later use[4, 238]. It is used both internally and externally in the treatment of a wide range of ailments, including as a poultice for wounds, ulcers and many other skin problems[4, 7, 244], and as a decoction for insomnia and cases where a strong diuretic is beneficial[4]. It has been shown of benefit in the treatment of glandular fever, ME, tonsillitis, hepatitis, cystitis etc[238]. The plant is often used as part of a spring tonic drink with other herbs[4]. A tea made from the plant has traditionally been used internally and externally in the treatment of cancer[4, 218, 222]. One report says that it is better to use a juice of the plant rather than a tea[254]. The effectiveness of this treatment has never been proved or disproved[7]. Both Asperuloside (a terpenoid) and Coumarin (a benzopyrone) occur in some species of Galium. Asperuloside can be converted into prostaglandins (hormone-like compounds that stimulate the uterus and affect blood vessels), making the genus of great interest to the pharmaceutical industry[238]. A homeopathic remedy has been made from the plant[7].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Cleanser  Dye  Filter  Tinder

A red dye is obtained from a decoction of the root[4, 7, 168]. When ingested it can dye the bones red[4]. The dried plant is used as a tinder[99]. The plant can be rubbed on the hands to remove pitch (tar)[99]. The stems are placed in a layer 8cm or more thick and then used as a sieve for filtering liquids[4, 115, 172].

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Dynamic accumulator

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Prefers a loose moist leafy soil in some shade[200]. Plants tolerate dry soils, but they quickly become scorched when growing in full sun[200]. They do not thrive in a hot climate[200]. Another report says that plants succeed in most soils in full sun or heavy shade. A scrambling plant, the stems and leaves are covered with little hooked bristles by which it can adhere to other plants and climb into them[4]. A good species to grow in the wild garden, it provides food for the larvae of many butterfly species[30].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - best sown in situ as soon as the seed is ripe in late summer[200]. The seed can also be sown in spring though it may be very slow to germinate[200]. Once established, this plant does not really need any help to reproduce itself.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

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Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


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Readers comment

   Nov 9 2010 12:00AM

In Kent (UK), this plant comes up in spring and dies down in the summer. It then comes up again in the autumn and dies down in the winter. We use the young plant (10 cm high) in salads and make teas from the older plant. When we let it mature, it smothers everything in sight but is easy to pull up so isn't really a problem.

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