“All the herbe, his branches, leaves, and sede, do cleave and sticke fast to every thing that it toucheth: it is so sharp, that being drawen along the tongue, it wil make it to bleede.”
A Neiwe Herball, or Historie of Plantes, D. Rembert Dodoens, 1578
Catchweed bedstraw, Galium aparine L., is a winter or summer annual herb native to Eurasia and North America. The weed is more commonly known as “cleavers” in most of the English-speaking world outside the United States. Both names refer to the small hook-like bristles that cover the plant causing it to cling to almost anything that it touches. The plant is present on all of the world's continents in temperate zones, in warmer arctic zones, and at higher elevations in the tropics (Barkley 1986; Holm et al. 1991b). Catchweed bedstraw has numerous medicinal properties, has been used for animal feed and food processing, is a persistent weed in small grains and other crops, and is above all an accomplished world traveler and “hitch-hiker,” as we shall see.