Botanical Name: Galium aparine
Common Names: Cleavers, Goosegrass, Sticky Willy, CatchWeed, Sticky Willow, StickyJack
Cleaver is an annual, sprawling very distinctive looking plant that feels very rough to touch. It has stems that can grow to about 2m in length. The plant has tiny hooks all over that can easily attach to clothes or other plants.
This plant has a sprawling habit and with its hooks seems to crawl and spread over other shrubs creating a matt. The stems are slender and square in shape getting to around 0.2cm in size.
The leaves are lance like in shape and grow in groups of 6-9 from the joints of the stem. The leaves range in size from 1cm-8cm in length and 0.2cm-1cm in width. The whole leaf is covered in tiny hooked hairs.
The flowers are white and are arranged in small spreading clusters of 2-7 flowers that usually bloom in groups of 2-3 at anyone time. The flowers have 4 petals that are fused at the bases. These flowers are very small and are around 0.2cm in size.
The fruits when mature are brown, kidney shaped and covered in densely hooked hairs . They vary in size from 0.2cm-0.8 cm with each of the fruits carrying 2 round seeds.
The Younger leaves and stems can be cooked and used like a vegetable in soups and stews. The seeds when roasted actually make a really good substitute for coffee.
Cleaver has been used to treat bites, stings, burns and minor wounds as well as a range of other skin conditions . It can also be used as a diuretic as well as a lympatic and digestive cleanser.