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.



*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.

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2 thoughts on “Cleavers”

  1. 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!


  2. 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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