Galium aparine L.
Family - Rubiaceae
Stems - Reclining to ascending, to +/-1.5m long, 4-angled, with retrorse prickles on margins of angles, hollow, multiple from base, branching, herbaceous.
Leaves - In whorls of typically 8, sessile, linear-oblanceolate, mucronate to cuspidate, scabrous, to +7cm long, -1cm broad, with retrorse strigillose to retrorse prickle margins, midrib with prickles below.
Whorl of leaves.
Inflorescence - Axillary 2 to 5-flowered pedunculate cymes. Pedicels elongating in fruit, glabrous to scabrous.
Flowers - Corolla white, 4-lobed, tiny, to 3mm broad. Corolla tube to .5mm long. Lobes acute, 1.2mm long and broad, glabrous. Stamens 4, included, alternating with lobes. Styles 2, included, pale yellow. Stigmas capitate, pale-yellow. Ovary 2-carpellate. Calyx globose, hispid, 2mm in diameter. Fruit biglobose, uncinate-hispid, to +/-5mm in diameter, each carpel one seeded.
Flowering - May - July.
Habitat - Thickets, valleys, waste ground, disturbed sites, roadsides, railroads.
Origin - Native to U.S. and Eurasia.
Other info. - Just about everyone has encountered this plant at one time or another. The hooked spines of the fruit hold onto just about anything and are tough to remove. Apparently the fruits are good for something though. If dried and roasted they make a good drink, much like coffee. I haven't tried it yet. The plant itself isn't attractive as the branches grow in a tangled mass low to the ground. The plant is common throughout Missouri.
Photographs taken at Park College, Platte County, MO., 5-12-00, and in Brown Summit, NC., 4-20-03.