This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol2-4", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
1. Cleavers (Galium aparine, L.). 2. Teasel (Dipsacus sylvestris, Huds.). 3. Hoary Ragwort (Senecio eructfolius, L.). 4. Nipplewort (Lapsana communis, I,.). 5. Ash (Fraxinus excelsior, L.). 6. Great Bindweed (Calyslegia sepium, Br.).
It is called Stick-a-back because of its hooked fruits. Children placed stems upon each other's backs with the fruits hanging on them. Goose Grass was conferred as a name because it was used as food for young geese. The fruits are called Beggar's Lice. In regard to the name Blind Tongue, Wilkinson writes: "Children with the leaves practise Phlebotomy upon the tongue of those playmates who are simple enough to endure it." The name Catch-rogue was given because it generally grows in hedges, and adheres to the clothes of those who attempt to break through. Cleavers, Clever, Grip-grass refer to its cleaving or clinging habit. Goosebill was given because the leaves have coarsely-toothed margins, like a goose's bill. Harif is from the French herijfe, standing up like bristles.
Galium is from the Greek gala, meaning milk, and is applied to the genus because another species is used in curdling milk. The second name is the Greek word for the plant, probably from apairo, lay hold of.
The fruits are given to poultry, and both cattle and horses eat it. In Sweden the fruits are used for coffee. Dioscorides tells us that the stems were used as a sieve, and the same use is applied to them in Sweden to-day. An ointment for scalds and burns has been made from it. Being astringent, it has also been used for colds and swellings. A kind of beer is made from it in some districts. It is a blood-purifier, and young shoots are used in spring to make a broth. The juice was used for scorbutic complaints. A red dye is prepared from the roots. The juice has also been used for earache and for bites from poisonous snakes and spiders. Gravel was said to be cured by the use of a strong dose of it.
Photo. B Hanley - Cleavers (galium Aparine, L.)
Essential Specific Characters: 142. Galium Aparine, L. - Stem straggly, matted, rough, leaves 6-8 in a whorl, rough with reflexed bristles, flowers white, small, in axillary cymes, 3-9, fruit covered with hooked bristles.