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Galium verum, Lady's Bedstraw


Ladys Bedstraw grows well in the summer meadow and is a food plant for the larvae of several species of butterflies.

Lady's bedstraw has a long history of use as a herbal medicine, though it is little used in modern medicine. Its main application is as a diuretic and as a treatment for skin complaints.

A red dye is obtained from the root. It is rather fiddly to utilize.

A yellow dye is obtained from the flowering tops. The dye is obtained from the foliage when it is boiled with alum.

The dried plant has the scent of newly mown hay, it was formerly used as a strewing herb and for stuffing mattresses etc. It is said to keep fleas away.

A sprig in a shoe is said to prevent blisters.

Prefers a loose moist leafy soil in some shade, but it tolerates a position in full sun. Plants are tolerant of dry soils, but do not thrive in a hot climate. They dislike very acid soils.

Best sown in situ in late summer. The seed can also be sown in situ in the spring though it may be very slow to germinate.

Edible uses

Leaves - raw or cooked.

A yellow dye from the flowering stems is used as a food colouring. The roasted seed is a coffee substitute. The seed is also said to be edible. The chopped up plant can be used as a rennet to coagulate plant milks.

The flowering tops are distilled in water to make a refreshing acid beverage.


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