Galium aparine L. - Goose grass

Systematic position.

Family Rubiaceae, genus Galium L.


G. aparine f. spurium (L.) Boivin
Cleavers, Bedstraw, Sticky Willy, Catchweed

Biological group.

Early spring annual plant.

Morphology and biology.

Stem weak, 30-100 (up to 300 cm) tall, cohesive, 4-sided, covered with spinules directed downward along ribs, slightly thickened and glandular at nodes. Stalky root is weakly developed. Leaves located in groups of 6-8 in a whorl, linear-lanceolate, (13)-30-(52) mm in length, (1.5)-2-(6) mm in width, slightly pointed at apex, gradually narrowed toward base, sessile; covered with downward-pointing spinules laterally, from below, and along nerves; from above, glabrous or covered with short, decumbent, stiff, upward-directed hairs. Inflorescence is umbrella-shaped. Flower-bearing pedicles axillary, long, rough due to spinules. 1-3 flowers in each inflorescence. Corolla white, 1.5 mm in diameter. Fruit is a spherical brown nutlet, with deep excision ventrally, 1.8-3 in length, 1.3-2.3 in width, 1.5-1.8 mm in thickness, with hooked hairs on tubercles. Mass of 1000 nutlets is 3-3.5 g. Productivity reaches 1200 nutlets. Shoots often reddish violet, especially autumnal ones. Flowering occurs in June-September.


Europe, the Caucasus, Siberia, the Far East, Asia Minor, Central Asia, and North America.


The species inhabits fields and pastures, occurring in abundance in humid, fertile, and rich limy soils, including fresh argillaceous and loamy soils. In the zone of irrigated agriculture, it grows in vineyards, along banks of canals and irrigation canals, though rarely in fields. Seeds germinate at depths of 8-9 cm or more at temperatures of +1-2°C. Dry years are less favorable for germinating than humid ones. Seeds remain viable for 5 years.

Economic significance.

Litters all crops. The greatest weediness is observed in winter wheat crops. The weed grows through the upper layer, climbing the cultivated plants, causing loss of grain during harvesting (spinose stems of the weed cause plant lodging, especially in grains and flax). Economical threshold is 2-5 plants per square meter. Control measures include post-harvest stubbling to depths of 6-8 cm, followed by subsequent plowing or soil treatment with cultivator in order to destroy the shoots of the weed. Inter-tilled treatments and timely cultivation of the soil in crop rotation are also necessary.

Related references:

Artokhin K.S. 2004. Atlas of weed plants. Rostov-na-Donu. 144 p. (in Russian).
Bazdyrev G.I., Zotov L.I., Polin V.D. 2004. Weed plants and their control in modern agriculture. Moscow: MSKHA , 288 p. (in Russian).
Chesalin G.A. 1975. Weeds and their control. Moscow: Kolos. 256 p. (in Russian).
Komarov V.L., ed. 1958. Flora of the USSR. Moscow & Leningrad: AN SSSR. V. 23, 776 p. (in Russian).

© Doronina A.Yu.

Photo N.N. Luneva

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