WSU Extension


Weeds : Catchweed bedstraw (Cleavers) : Galium aparine
(revision date: 4/5/2016)

Family: Rubiaceae
Cycle: Annual
Plant Type: Broadleaf

Use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for successful weed management.

Catchweed bedstraw is a weakly erect to sprawling plant from a slender taproot. Stems are weak, climbing or twining to over six feet in length. The stems are square in cross-section with short, downward-pointing bristles along the ridges. Narrow leaves occur in whorls of six to eight, with backward-pointing bristles along the leaf margins. Small, four-petalled, white flowers are produced on short stems in the leaf axils. Fruits consist of two nearly round structures joined along the center. The seeds are covered with hooked hairs which aid in dispersal. This plant spreads only by seeds, but a related species (northern bedstraw, Galium boreale) is a perennial with a spreading root system. SPECIAL INFORMATION: The clinging seeds and stems of catchweed bedstraw can be a nuisance on animals or in clothing.
Catchweed bedstraw is often found in uncultivated areas such as along fencerows, under trees, or in brushy areas. From there, the plant can spread into gardens, fields, ornamental plantings, and other cultivated sites.

Management Options

Non-Chemical Management
  • Cultivation (rototilling or hoeing) will effectively eliminate plants.
Select non-chemical management options as your first choice!

Chemical Management

Apply according to label directions. Glyphosate products should be applied as spot treatments only! Not a problem in healthy established turf. NOTE: Some ingredients listed here are only available in combination. Read the label carefully on combination products to make sure the product is suitable for your specific situation.

Landscape areas
  • glyphosate
Turf areas
    Bare ground areas
    • glyphosate
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    Caption: Catchweed bedstraw leaf whorls
    Photo by: T. W. Miller
    Caption: Catchweed bedstraw
    Photo by: T. W. Miller
    Caption: Catchweed bedstraw
    Photo by: T.W. Miller
    Caption: Leaves and stems
    Photo by: J.A. Kropf
    Caption: Leaves and stems
    Photo by: Washington Noxious Weed Control Board
    Caption: Catchweed bedstraw fruits
    Photo by: D.G. Swan
    Caption: Pulled plant showing roots
    Photo by: J.A. Kropf