Galium aparine is commonly referred to as cleavers, goosegrass, catchweed, sticky willy or bedstraw, among other names. Sticky weed is an annual plant that belongs to the Rubiaceae family. It is native to North America, Europe, and Asia but has spread to other parts of the world.
Galium aparine is characterized by its slender, square stems with tiny hooked hairs, which give the plant its characteristic “sticky” feeling. The leaves are arranged in whorls around the stem, and each leaf has a rough, hairy texture. The plant produces small, inconspicuous white or greenish-white flowers that develop into tiny, round fruits covered in hooked hairs.
Sticky weed is known to grow in various habitats, including gardens, fields, woodlands, and along roadsides. You might also find it in your lawn and landscaping! It can be an aggressive weed, quickly covering and smothering other plants. The plant’s hooked hairs allow it to cling to clothing, fur, and other surfaces, which helps in seed dispersal. So it’s important to get rid of it before it spreads.
To control sticky weed in your garden, you can remove it by hand, making sure to pull up the entire root system. Regularly inspecting your garden and promptly removing any new plants will help prevent the weed from becoming a widespread issue. Avoid letting it go to seed or you’ll have a much worse problem next year!
Galium Aparine Weed, Just the Facts
|Sticky Weed Information
|Cleavers, Goosegrass, Catchweed, Bedstraw, Sticky Willy
|Slender, square stems with hooked hairs, whorled leaves, small white or greenish-white flowers
|USA Range and Habitat
|Across the United States, more common in the Eastern and Midwestern states; gardens, fields, woodlands, roadsides
|Typically 1-3 feet, can climb or sprawl
|Time of Year You See It
|Spring and Summer, with peak growth in late Spring to early Summer
|Aggressive growth, can smother other plants
|Impact on Lawn and Garden
|Competes with other plants for resources, can create a tangled mess in lawns and gardens
|Hand pulling, mowing, regular inspection, prevention techniques, mulching, organic options (pre-emergent spreading of corn gluten meal), chemical options (pre-emergent herbicides)
|Early removal is key to prevent spreading, can be composted if seeds have not formed