South Dakota Native Plant Research
Rubiaceae : Galium boreale

Rubiaceae : Galium boreale


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Family Name


Common Name

Northern bedstraw

Native American Name

Lakota: čhaŋȟlóǧaŋ ská waštémna


Galium boreale is a perennial herb growing from a creeping rhizome with numerous, erect, often branched stems, 20-70 cm tall, that have clusters of hairs below the nodes. The sessile, simple, linear to lanceolate leaves are in whorls of 4, 3-4 cm long, often with fascicles of smaller leaves in their axils. The inflorescence consists of showy, terminal cymose panicles. The flowers have a small tubular calyx, the corolla is wheel-like, 3.5-7 mm wide, with 4 white to occasionally yellowish, reflexed lobes. There are 4 stamens and a 2-carpled pistil with 2 styles. The fruit is dry, globose, 2 mm long schizocarp the spits into 2 seed-like parts. Northern bedstraw blooms from June into September in prairies, woodlands, hillsides and roadways, often forming large colonies, in the Black Hills, the Coteau des Prairies and norther counties of South Dakota.

Additional Notes

Northern bedstraw make a striking ground cover along garden borders and under stands of trees. The flowers are bright, prolific, and self-pollinating. The roots are used to make a natural red dye.

Horticulture Notes

Seed collection: Fruits mature in late summer and fall and can be collected when they begin to separate into 2 sections.

Germination: Fall sowing is recommended, but a 120-day cold moist treatment before spting planting will provide good results.

Vegetative propagation: Mature plants spread by rhizomes that can be separated and transplanted.

Light: Partial shade to full sun.

Soil: Rocky to loamy, well drained soils.

Water: Moist to medium dry.

Rubiaceae : Galium boreale