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Published In: Species Plantarum 1: 107. 1753. (1 May 1753) (Sp. Pl.) Name publication detailView in BotanicusView in Biodiversity Heritage Library

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 9/8/2017)
Acceptance : Accepted
Project Data     (Last Modified On 7/9/2009)
Status: Introduced


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14. Galium verum L. (yellow bedstraw, Our Lady’s bedstraw)

Pl. 549 c; Map 2548

Plants perennial, sometimes somewhat woody at the base and/or with a woody rootstock. Stems 25–100 cm long, erect to loosely ascending, often weak and clambering on other vegetation and/or matted, usually well-branched toward the tip, also usually with relatively well-developed but often short axillary branches below the flowering portion, evenly and moderately to densely pubescent with minute to short, wavy, soft, spreading or somewhat downward-curved hairs on and between the angles. Leaves 6–8(–12) per node, sometimes apparently more numerous because of short axillary branches, more or less spreading in orientation. Leaf blades 5–20 mm long (sometimes 0.2–0.4 mm along the flowering branches), 0.5–2.0 mm wide, very narrowly triangular to more commonly linear, angled or tapered to a sharply pointed tip, the midvein usually extended into a minute, sharp point, truncate or slightly tapered at the base, the undersurface (difficult to observe) not glandular, densely and evenly pubescent with minute curled hairs (sometimes appearing mealy), usually also with dense, slightly longer, straight, stiff hairs along the midvein, the venation with only the midvein visible, the margins and upper surface roughened with minute to short, stiff, ascending hairs (or the margins glabrous, but this usually impossible to observe), strongly curled under. Inflorescences terminal and also axillary from leaves in the apical 1/3 of the stem, not pendant, positioned over the leaves, consisting of small (1–2 cm long), stalked panicles, with mostly 3–6 branch points, the apical 1/3 of the stem with its reduced leaves and dense inflorescences often resembling a single, highly branched panicle. Flowers mostly numerous, the stalks 1–2 mm long. Corollas 1.2–1.5 mm long, 4-lobed, yellow. Fruits 0.8–1.2 mm long, 0.8–1.2 mm wide, the surface glabrous, smooth. 2n=22, 44. May–July.

Introduced, uncommon, known thus far only from a single historical specimen from Adair County (native of Europe, Asia; introduced widely but sporadically in the northern U.S. south to California, Colorado, and North Carolina; Canada, Greenland). Habitat unknown.

This native of the Mediterranean region is cultivated as an ornamental, mostly in shade gardens. The flowers have a strong, sweet odor, which some persons find pleasant and others definitely do not. Steyermark also noted some uses of G. verum, as follows: “This is the species of bedstraw which is claimed to have been the one which filled the Christ Child’s manger at Bethlehem, and later on was used for stuffing mattresses. The distilled flowering tops are made into a beverage, and a type of cheese, made from the milk of sheep and goats, is prepared from the plant when mixed with rennet from calves.” Galium verum additionally has provided a medicinal styptic, a red dye, and, no doubt, other useful substances.

Also cultivated in Missouri is Galium mollugo L. (false baby’s breath), which occasionally escapes and becomes naturalized in the eastern United States. This species is quite similar to G. verum but can be distinguished by its glabrous, smooth stems and white to pale green flowers.



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