Updated: May 31, 2018
Other names: Goosegrass, Clives, Catchweed, Bedstraw, Little Sweethearts, Sticky-Willy, Hayriff, Mutton Chops, Sticky buds, Grip grass.
Planetary ruler: Moon/ Saturn
Element: Water/ Fire
Magical uses: Relationships, Commitment, Protection, Tenacity, Binding
Medical actions: Diuretic, alterative, anti-inflammatory, tonic, astringent
Cleavers are a common roadside annual plant that climbs over everything in its path and sticks to them with its sticky leaves and seeds. I noticed it's already starting to appear in my garden now, so I thought I'd find out more about its uses.
It is one of the earliest Spring tonic plants and sometimes even appears before the end of the year in sheltered spots. The generic name 'Galium' is believed to come from the Greek word 'Gala' which means 'milk' This is thought to refer to cleavers ability to curdle milk. The specific name 'aparine' is thought to come from the Greek word ' aparo' meaning 'to sieze', which refers to the plants ability to stick to anything, including clothes and dogs etc. Cleavers quite happily rampages all through woodland, grass verges, other plants. It will choke out other plants if you’re not careful.
Cleavers is a valuable healing plant and one of the best tonic's for clearing the lymphatic system, making it a good remedy for swollen glands, adenoid problems, tonsillitis and earache. It is diuretic and is cool and soothing which makes it good for irritation of the urinary tract including cystitis.
Cleavers can be eaten fresh in salads, added to smoothies, soups and juices and cooked like spinach and eaten as a vegetable. It is best used fresh as it loses some of its effectiveness when dried. It can also be drunk as a tea and used in tinctures and poultices. As an ointment is works well for dry chapped skin conditions and is said to aid the healing of sunburn, minor burns and scalds.
For a poultice the fresh plant can be picked, crushed and put straight on to blisters and sores. The seeds can be dried, roasted and ground to make a caffeine -free coffee like drink (I don't think I'll try this though!).
During the middle ages Cleavers was used as a strewing herb, and the juice was used to treat poisonous spider bites. The juice has also been used for many years to stop bleeding and to treat wounds and ulcers. A red dye can be made from the roots. The ancient Greeks used to make a makeshift sieve for filtering milk with cleavers.
Magically Cleavers is associated with renewal at Spring time and can be drank or added to food at the Ostara rites.
Because it clings to fabric so well it would be useful for working binding spells and whenever a situation needs bringing together, a relationship or some other kind of commitment needs some help.
Pour 1/2 pint of boiling water over a handful of fresh cleavers. Infuse for 10-15 minutes, strain and drink.
3 handfuls young cleavers leaves
2 handfuls mixed leaves (e.g. ribwort, plantain, nettle, dandelion, yarrow, clover, daisies)
Herbs for seasoning (e.g. lovage, thyme, marjoram, lemon balm, peppermint, dill, parsley. chives)
2 garlic cloves
1 potato, diced into small pieces
750 ml vegetable stock.
Wash the leaves, weeds and herbs and chop them coarsely. Chop the onion and garlic and fry in a little oil until golden. Add the potato, cleavers, mixed leaves and herbs. Pour in the stock and cook for about 10 minutes. Leave to cool slightly, then liquidise until the soup is smooth.
Image - Wikipedia