Lady’s Bedstraw


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Galium verum

Hardy perennial spreading ground cover. The leaves are edible raw or cooked, and chopped up leaves can be used as a rennet to coagulate plant milks. Lady’s Bedstraw is related to madder and yields similar dyes, red from the roots, and yellow from the flowers. The yellow can be used as a food colouring, and gives its colour to the cheese Double Gloucester. The flowers can be steeped to make a refreshing drink, and the plant  is also used to infuse spirits such as the Danish drink Bjæsk. The seeds are also said to be edible.

The plant has a long history of medicinal uses as a diuretic and for skin complaints, amongst other things, but is little used in modern medicine.

In the past the dried plant was used as a strewing herb and was said to repel fleas due to the coumarin content of the leaves. It was also used as a stuffing for mattresses for this reason, hence the name. At the very least it could make useful bedding for chooks, and possibly also a stuffing for homemade toys? Last but not least the flowers attract butterflies. Tolerates moist or dry soil in a sunny or partly shady position, and grows to about 60cm. 9cm pot. Certified organic plant.