Galium aparine, oh how I love you, let me count the ways. You crawl between my iris and crepe myrtles and I have to take you out. Low and behold I have learned that you make strong medicine for me, my family, and our animals. I have learned to love your sticky caress as I gently harvest you out of the flower bed. You make beautiful healing oil for creams and salves, tasty glycerite for moving my sluggish lymph glands, tasty vinegar to anoint my salads all year, healthy spring tonic along with your sidekick chickweed. What a powerful team you make- truly my super hero.
Some peoples call you bed straw, goose weed, and cleavers. Deer like to make their bed with you. People used to fill their mattresses with you. People have even used your roots for a red dye. You make wonderful ice cubes to put on burns including sun burn and to cool the body in the heat. You help cool me down when my system is very warm. You are a gentle diuretic and you treat my urinary tract and kidneys when they are inflamed. When I put you in a lovely cream you help clear up my complexion. I have read that in a salve you can help shrink tumors and nodular skin growths. Is there anything you can’t do?
You have an interesting history. Farmers used you as a sieve to strain hair and dirt from milk. People used you to prepare a bed for childbirth. People used you for swellings and ear pain, venomous bites, and to prevent miscarriages, yet you are gentle enough to use for children. I have read that you lose your properties when heated or dried so I use you fresh or as a glycerite or vinegar or a combination of both. I am trying to infuse you in an oil for a skin cream but you don’t seem to enjoy sitting in the sun under my flower pot on the patio very much.
Cleaver – clivers, potato- potahto, you really helped our horses when they came down with Strangles. I remember chopping you up fresh to add to their feed and pulling up hands full to feed them as they grazed in the yard. Our dog watches me as I harvest weeds and later comes back to sample the plant. I have seen him eating cleavers on numerous occasions a bite here and a bite there. When my husband experienced a swollen prostate, you helped to alleviate the problem in combination with some other herbs.
All in all it has been my pleasure getting to know you. I hope you will always grace my garden in spring. Until next year…
In getting to know cleavers I have read books by Susan Weed, Rosemary Gladster, Matthew Woods, Richo Cech, and Micheal Tierra. I have visited many websites including Henrietta Kress and several sites about herbal history. I tried to email one herbalist to ask about their uses of cleavers but they did not reply.