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.
This common well-known hedge plant can boast of some antiquity, for it is found in Neolithic beds at Casewick. It is found in the North Temperate and Arctic Zones, moreover, at the present time, in Arctic Europe, N. Asia, W. Asia to India, and Temperate N. and S. America. It is found in every part of Great Britain, ascending to 1200 ft. in Yorkshire.
Cleavers is one of the commonest hedgerow plants, growing freely along the wayside, where it runs rampant to the exclusion of all else. It is also common in the hedgerows and fields, growing side by side with Hedge Parsley. It grows too in cornfields, and in stack-yards, as well as on waste ground.
Tall and clustered, numerous branches spread out from a single root, seeking support from the surrounding herbage. The stems are angular, four-sided, and rough, both the margins of the leaves and angles of the stems being rough. The leaves are 6-8 in a whorl, lance-shaped, coarsely hairy, and the midrib or central vein is also rough below, and the prickles are more or less general and turned back. The joints are finely hairy. The plant is a hook-climber.
The flowers, which very quickly fall, are minute and white. The cymes are axillary, and contain up to nine flowers, borne on spreading flower-stalks. The flower-stalks are turned back in fruit. The rounded fruits are very rough and roughly hairy, purple in tint, and very clinging, a character implied by the second Greek name and the English one.
The stem may reach a length of 3 ft. or more. It is in flower from May to August. The plant is annual and propagated by seeds.
Here, as in other Galia, the flowers are white, but they are small, and, though they have honey, which is unconcealed, they are less likely to be visited by insects than any of the others. Usually the flowers are hidden away in a tangle of herbage, and the flower must rely on self-pollination for the perfection of its large and numerous fruits. The anthers and stigma are close together, when pollinated probably pollen is carried by the insects' feet.
The fruits are hooked and catch in the coats of animals and are thus dispersed, being distributed by the agency of animals.
A sand soil suits Cleavers or Goose-grass best, and it is mainly a sand-loving plant, but it will grow also on clay and is a clay-loving plant, or more frequently on sandy loam.
Three little fungi, Puccinia Galii, Peronospora calotheca, Pseudo-peziza repanda, grow on it. It is also galled by Eriophyes galii. The Humming-bird Hawk Moth, Macroglossa stellatarum, feeds upon it.
It is called Airess, Airif, Airup, Aparine, Bedstraw, Beggar Lice, Beggar Weed, Bleedy Tongues, Blind Tongue, Bur, Bur-head, Bur-weed, Catch-rogue, Catch-weed, Chickweed, Claiton, Claver-grass, Cleavers, Cleden, Cleeiton, Cleggers, Clever-grass, Clider, Cling-rascal, Clitch Buttons, Clite, Clitheren, Clits, Cliver, Cly, Clyders, Errif, Geckdor, Gux Grass, Gentleman's Tormentors, Goosebill, Goose-grass, Goose-heiriffe, Gooseshare, Goose Tongue, Gosling Grass, Gosling Scrotch, Gosling Weed, Grip-grass, Gull-grass, Gye, Hair-weed, Harif, Haritch, Harvest Lice, Hedge-burs, Jack-in-the-hedge, Lizzy-run-up-the-hedge, Robin-in-the-hedge, Robin-run-up-the-dyke, Soldiers' Buttons, Stick-a-back, Stickle Back, Sweethearts' Tivers, Tongue Bleeder, Withers Pail, Willy-run-hedge.