Cleavers (A.K.A goose grass, stickybobs, catch weed, catch weed, bedstraw and many other names) is a great plant ally. Easily identified and prolific in hedgerows. It sprouts up quickly in spring in big patches climbing up walls, fences and other plants. It is just starting to peep out now. The little plants could be picked and cooked like asparagus, later in the year, as it gets higher it gets a bit tough so I only pick the tops. Cleavers are good friends with nettles. Watch out for them as you forage. Many a time a little nettle protector has taken the foraging tax from me.
It’s easily identified. As far as I’m aware there is only one plant which looks similar but its not sticky. Some people can find it to be irritating and come out in a rash, if this is you then obviously don’t injest it.
*As always do your own research and never eat anything unless you are 100% sure you have identified it correctly. *
Called cleavers because of the way it ‘cleaves’ itself with tiny hooks to clothing, fur and just about anything else. As children we giggled sticking it to each others backs and running off. The tiny seeds cover all of my animals in summer particularly the cat who would rather keep them forever than let me brush her.
The name bedstraw was given to it because that’s one thing it was used for, to stuff mattresses. Throughout history it was also used to strain milk and make cheese, a practice still used in some countries today
Cleavers is a useful weed particularly if like me you suffer from UTI’s and skin complaints. It contains Iridoids and gallic acids. Traditionally it was used as a poultice and applied to tumours. It is diuretic, anti-inflammatory and astringent. Taken internally it is an excellent lymphatic tonic.
My favourite way to use Cleavers is simply to eat it. The top young parts of the plant can be eaten raw. Some people strip the little leaves of the stem, personally I find this to be rather time consuming so I pinch the top growth off and eat them. You can cook it like any other green. I add it to my green goddess soup with lots of butter and pepper. A spring soup which holds all the motivational energy of the season.
In a tea or cold infusion it makes for an uplifting tonic and is also one of the herbs I always have. To combat UTI’s, I just brew it up in a teapot and drink three times a day or add it to my water bottle and let it steep overnight. This is also said to help relieve a fever but I’ve never tried it for that.
For skin complaints such as excema and psoriasis; a poultice can be made by mashing the leaves with a little warm water and applying to the affected area. Wrap with clean bandages and leave for 40 mins before reapplying fresh mush (the technical term dontcha know) . It can also be steeped in oil for 3 months and added to a balm along with other ingredients such as Calendula and Chickweed.
Cleavers is ruled by the moon. Making it a helpful plant ally for women. It is said to allow for resting space, helping to slow down people who struggle to do so. The ones who have to go full pelt until they suffer from burnout. If you more of a procrastinator or stuck in a rut you might want to seek a more active energy. That being said it is an early spring plant; appearing at the time many of us are setting goals and plans for the year ahead. Perhaps the message here is to prepare for growth rather than diving into action.
Cleavers is also beneficial in work with binding magic: Binding energy to you or from you.
So there you are. A really easy plant to work with. Boosts energy and immunity through supporting the lymphatic system. Tasty green little spring friend.
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Peace out witches.
Love Kate xxx