nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘Rough Bedstraw

abandoned gardens: wildflowers take over

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Finding abandoned house-sites where the house has been burned, rotted or torn down is not difficult. Sometime bits of the house are still visible. Sometimes the house-site is the only un-mowed part of a hayfield. Sometimes there are shrubs or flowers, remnants of the plants that once grew there.

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After a few years of abandonment, wildflowers and other plants that colonize disturbed or waste areas gradually take over. In our travels we have seen bedstraw (Galium spp.), spreading dogbane (Apocynum andossemifelium) and other invasives.

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7 old homestead Debec area

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On our drive to the area west of Woodstock, we saw lots of rough bedstraw, with its leaves in sixes (Galium asprellum), sprawling over abandoned areas. It forms a tangle across low pastures and ditches. The tangle looks springy and comfortable, the perfect mattress stuffing, but feels rough and sticky when rubbed backwards from stem to flowers, due to the plant’s rasping, hooked prickles.

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On Wednesday, we took a drive to the area north of Stanley to Centreville, a community settled in 1890 and then abandoned.  We revisited a property we saw in 2018, to try and identify a plant I had seen there. Spreading dogbane (Apocynum androssemifolium) has taken over the front of the property and is gradually spreading into the field.

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Not a very pretty name for a fragrant, nodding flower, pink and bell-like, with tiny red veins inside each flower.

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Although my project is about garden escapes, I think I need to mention the wild species that move the other way, from wild areas to areas that have been abandoned! It’s all about competition and so often, the wild species, adapted to living in our soils and climate. are the successful ones!

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This work is supported by a Creation Grant from artsnb (the New Brunswick Arts Board)!

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All my best.

Stay safe.

Wash your hands.

Jane 

Written by jane tims

July 10, 2020 at 7:00 am

harvesting colour – Rough Bedstraw

with 4 comments

DSCF1846_CROP_CROP_crop

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Rough Bedstraw

            Gallium asprellum Michx.

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along the sleepy river

green shoreline, plumped and pillowed

rough bedstraw, river trick

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river and shoreline beckon

you to bed down, settle down

get a little shut-eye, tough

stuff bedstraw, mattress thick

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shoreline a bedroom, rough

bedstraw, green mattress, blue sky

bedspread, blue river tick

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orchard along the Saint John River

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Published as ‘Rough Bedstraw, Canadian Stories 17 (99),October/November 2014

Copyright  2014  Jane Tims

 

Written by jane tims

October 24, 2014 at 7:01 am

Rough Bedstraw (Galium asprellum Michx.)

with 10 comments

Rough Bedstraw (Galium asprellum Michx.) is a common sprawling weed.  It forms a tangle across low pastures, brooksides and ditches.    The tangle looks springy and comfortable, the perfect mattress stuffing, but feels rough and sticky when rubbed backwards from stem to flowers, due to the plant’s  rasping, hooked prickles.

Other names for bedstraw are Cleavers and, in French, gaillet.  The generic name is from the Greek gala meaning ‘milk’, since milk is curdled by some species.

Rough Bedstraw is one of a number of common Galium species. They all have the same general habit… small narrow leaves are arranged in whorls of six or eight around the stem.  They are all useful plants.  They were used as stuffing because of their physical characteristics and because the smell of the dried plant repels fleas.

To identify the species of  Galium mentioned below:

~ smell the plant in question

~ count the leaves

~ look for the color of the flowers

~ determine if the plant is rough or smooth

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Galium asprellum Michx.

Rough Bedstraw has its leaves in sixes, and is rough with recurved bristles.  Its flowers are white.  This species has weak stems and reclines on other vegetation. Asprellum means ‘somewhat rough’. It has been used to stuff mattresses.

Galium triflorum Michx.

Sweet-scented Bedstraw or Fragrant Bedstraw grows in forested areas.  It has white flowers arising along the stem and its leaves in sixes.  It reclines and clings, but is not as bristly as Rough Bedstraw.  Fragrant Bedstraw is used for stuffing mattresses and has the smell of vanilla when it dries.

Galium verum L.

Lady’s Bedsraw or Yellow Bedstraw has yellow flowers borne at the top of the upright stem, and leaves in sixes or eights.  The plant is hairy but not clinging.  The word verum means ‘true’, derived from the Christian tradition that Yellow Bedstraw lined Jesus’ manger at Bethlehem.  The roots also make a red or yellow dye.

Galium aparine L.

Cleavers, Goose-grass, Stickywilly, or (in Ireland) Robin Run the Hedge is bristly and has white flowers and leaves in eights. Aparine is the old generic name and probably means to ‘scratch, cling or catch’. The young shoots can be cooked as greens or used as a salad. The nuts are roasted and ground for a coffee substitute.

Galium mollugo L.

White Bedstraw, Hedge Bedstraw, or Wild Madder has white flowers and its leaves mostly in eights.  It is smooth, without bristles and stands upright.  A red dye is made from the roots.  Its leaves are edible as a potherb or salad.  It has a mildy astringent taste.

Most of the Galium along the roadsides in our area is Wild Madder (Galium mollago L.).


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Rough Bedstraw

(Galium asprellum Michx.)

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Our mattress is lumpy, as though stuffed

with Rough Bedstraw, fragrant as new sheets

but uncomfortable

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I sleep poorly

and a spring sticks in my back,

just where arthritis begins, along the spine

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Small back-pointed bristles

thwart my turning, bed-clothing tacky

on this humid night

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©  Jane Tims 2012

Warning:
1. never eat any plant if you are not absolutely certain of the identification;
2. never eat any plant if you have personal sensitivities, including allergies, to certain plants or their derivatives;
3. never eat any plant unless you have checked several sources to verify the edibility of the plant.
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