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Galium boreale (Northern bedstraw)
Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia

Galium boreale

Galium boreale L.

Northern Bedstraw

Rubiaceae (Madder Family)

Synonym(s): Galium boreale ssp. septentrionale, Galium boreale ssp. septentrionale, Galium boreale var. hyssopifolium, Galium boreale var. intermedium, Galium boreale var. linearifolium, Galium boreale var. scabrum, Galium boreale var. typicum, Galium hyssopifolium, Galium septentrionale, Galium strictum

USDA Symbol: GABO2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), AK (N), CAN (N), GL (N)

This Galium species, of which there are many similar, is 12-24 in. high and many-branched. The narrow leaves are in whorls of four. The mounded plant is topped by masses of tiny white flowers.

This is a smooth species compared to others in the genus with rough bristly stems. It often forms sizable patches which may smother other, more desirable plants.


From the Image Gallery

11 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Size Notes: Up to about 2 feet tall.
Leaf: Green
Fruit: Nutlets, usually with short hairs.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep


USA: AK , AZ , CA , CO , CT , DE , IA , ID , IL , IN , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MT , ND , NE , NH , NJ , NM , NV , NY , OH , OR , PA , RI , SD , TN , TX , UT , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV , WY
Canada: AB , MB , NB , NS , ON , PE , SK
Native Distribution: Transcontinental Canada, s. to VA, n. IN, MO, s.e. KS & CA
Native Habitat: Open woods; woodland edges; prairie swales

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Moist, sometimes rocky, soils.
Conditions Comments: Suitable ground cover for "wild" garden.


Use Medicinal: Young plants are edible, but more often bedstraw has been used as medicine, often in hot poultices to stop bleeding and reduce swelling. The plant juice has been applied alone or in salves to heal sunburn, rashes, cuts, insect bites, eczema, ringworm and other skin problems. (Kershaw)
Use Other: The name bedstraw refers to the historcal use of European plants as a fragrant suffing for mattresses and pillows. (Kershaw)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes


Description: Propagated by rhizome cuttings in spring or by division of mature plants. Seed germination is good, especially in greenhouse sowings. Seeds sown in the field are often destroyed by insects.
Commercially Avail: yes

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

Web Reference

Webref 30 - Calflora (2018) Calflora
Webref 36 - Jepson eFlora (2019) The Jepson Herbarium, University of California, Berkeley
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

USDA: Find Galium boreale in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Galium boreale in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Galium boreale


Record Modified: 2023-05-15
Research By: TWC Staff

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