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Edible uses


Leaves - raw or cooked[1][2].

A yellow dye from the flowering stems is used as a food colouring[3][4]. The roasted seed is a coffee substitute[5]. The seed is also said to be edible[2]. The chopped up plant can be used as a rennet to coagulate plant milks[5][6][7][4][8].

The flowering tops are distilled in water to make a refreshing acid beverage[9][4].


Material uses

A red dye is obtained from the root[10][11][5][6][7]. It is rather fiddly to utilize[12].

A yellow dye is obtained from the flowering tops[10][5][7]. The dye is obtained from the foliage when it is boiled with alum[13]. The dried plant has the scent of newly mown hay, it was formerly used as a strewing herb[14] and for stuffing mattresses etc[15][6][7]. It is said to keep fleas away[13].

A sprig in a shoe is said to prevent blisters[6].

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Lady's bedstraw has a long history of use as a herbal medicine, though it is little used in modern medicine. Its main application is as a diuretic and as a treatment for skin complaints[16].

The leaves, stems and flowering shoots are antispasmodic, astringent, diuretic, foot care, lithontripic and vulnerary[10][5][17]. The plant is used as a remedy in gravel, stone or urinary disorders[10][17][18][19] and is believed to be a remedy for epilepsy[10][20]. A powder made from the fresh plant is used to soothe reddened skin and reduce inflammation[5] whilst the plant is also used as a poultice on cuts, skin infections, slow-healing wounds etc[17]. The plant is harvested as it comes into flower and is dried for later use[17].

A number of species in this genus contain asperuloside, a substance that produces coumarin and gives the scent of new-mown hay as the plant dries[19]. 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[19].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - best sown in situ as soon as it is ripe in late summer[21]. The seed can also be sown in situ in the spring though it may be very slow to germinate[21]. Division in spring. The plant can be successfully divided throughout the growing season if the divisions are kept moist until they are established[21]. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Galium verum. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Prefers a loose moist leafy soil in some shade, but it tolerates a position in full sun[22]. Plants are tolerant of dry soils[23], but do not thrive in a hot climate. They dislike very acid soils[24][18]. A very invasive plant[23], though it is low-growing and mixes without harm with any plants at least 60cm tall[K]. It grows well in the summer meadow[14] and is a food plant for the larvae of several species of butterflies[25].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Galium verum. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Galium verum.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Galium verum
Imported References
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
  • Unknown part (Coffee)
  • Unknown part (Colouring)
  • Unknown part (Curdling agent)
  • Unknown part (Drink)
  • Leaves (Unknown use)
  • Seed (Unknown use)
Material uses
  • Unknown part (Dye)
  • Unknown part (Repellent)
  • Unknown part (Strewing)
  • Unknown part (Stuffing)
Medicinal uses
  • Unknown part (Antispasmodic)
  • Unknown part (Astringent)
  • Unknown part (Diuretic)
  • Unknown part (Foot care)
  • Unknown part (Lithontripic)
  • Unknown part (Vulnerary)
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
light shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
  • Strong wind
  • Maritime exposure
Native Climate Zones
None listed.
Adapted Climate Zones
None listed.
Native Geographical Range
None listed.
Native Environment
None listed.
Ecosystem Niche
None listed.
Root Zone Tendancy
None listed.
Deciduous or Evergreen
Herbaceous or Woody
Life Cycle
Growth Rate
Mature Size
Flower Colour
Flower Type


  1. ? 1.01.1 Elias. T. and Dykeman. P. A Field Guide to N. American Edible Wild Plants. Van Nostrand Reinhold ISBN 0442222009 (1982-00-00)
  2. ? Reid. B. E. Famine Foods of the Chiu-Huang Pen-ts'ao. Taipei. Southern Materials Centre (1977-00-00)
  3. ? 3.03.1 Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World. Keigaku Publishing (1976-00-00)
  4. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
  5. ? Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald ISBN 0-356-10541-5 (1984-00-00)
  6. ? Ahrendt. Berberis and Mahonia. Journal of the Linnean Society, 57 (1961-00-00)
  7. ? Johnson. C. P. The Useful Plants of Great Britain. ()
  8. ? 8.08.1 Phillips. R. & Foy. N. Herbs Pan Books Ltd. London. ISBN 0-330-30725-8 (1990-00-00)
  9. ? 9.09.1 Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
  10. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
  11. ? 11.011.1 Mabey. R. Plants with a Purpose. Fontana ISBN 0-00-635555-2 (1979-00-00)
  12. ? 12.012.1 Buchanan. R. A Weavers Garden. ()
  13. ? Coffey. T. The History and Folklore of North American Wild Flowers. Facts on File. ISBN 0-8160-2624-6 (1993-00-00)
  14. ? Baines. C. Making a Wildlife Garden. ()
  15. ? 15.015.1 Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
  16. ? 16.016.1 Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants Dorling Kindersley. London ISBN 9-780751-303148 (1996-00-00)
  17. ? Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-37216-2 (1981-00-00)
  18. ? De. Bray. L. The Wild Garden. ()
  19. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
  20. ? 20.020.1 Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
  21. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
  22. ? Holtom. J. and Hylton. W. Complete Guide to Herbs. Rodale Press ISBN 0-87857-262-7 (1979-00-00)
  23. ? 23.023.1 F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
  24. ? 24.024.1 Clapham, Tootin and Warburg. Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press (1962-00-00)
  25. ? Carter D. Butterflies and Moths in Britain and Europe. Pan ISBN 0-330-26642-x (1982-00-00)