Cleavers , bobby buttons , sticky weed ,goose grass , and on and on …………
Well it may not win any awards for being the most interesting plant ever but if I’m honest it was probably my favourite childhood plant we called it “sticky willy” and many long walks home were made such fun by covering friends with as much as we could find little did we know that we were doing exactly as the plant wanted and transporting the seeds as nature intended .
Now as regards to cleavers for food they are edible but do need to be used with preparation as the leaves are covered in tiny hooks which makes eating them raw quite unpleasant fortunately they become edible with cooking and have a taste of their own when used in soups and teas as the citric acid content makes the tangy taste quite pleasant ,I use just the leaves separated from the stem as the stem never really seems to soften enough to enjoy .
I find the flavour quite subtle and is easily overpowered by strong flavours but added to flavours such as Ornithogalum pyrenaicum, commonly called wild asparagus, it is a great combination , and for something truly special some flat bread infused with pollen from water Lilly seeds topped off with cleavers and asparagus is undoubtedly the best wild toastie ever.
Also make sure you separate the seeds as the only thing I’ve ever found them good for is roasted in a dry pan and used as a hot brew .
As with most plants we harvest as food try for the younger specimens as when in seed the plant produces silicone ,
Medicinal use for this plant somewhat outweighs the calorific use as it naturally contains coumarin which has been used to treat bladder complaints for hundreds of years it also helps with kidney complaints and reduces fever ( used with dried and ground mallow root is best ) , when dried it also has anti inflammatory and blood pressure lowering qualities .
Some Native American tribes used then in a belief that they stopped pregnancy (no scientific evidence has been found to support this ) .
So in short there is method in me adding this common little herb into my diet it is one of our native wonders .
You can find the plant almost everywhere but it does like loamy soil and when it finds a good spot it has an amazing root structure , it is a herbaceous annual plants of the family Rubiaceae,