Rubiaceae (Madder Family)

Most of the Bay Area members of Rubiaceae are herbaceous, but a couple have woody stems and one is a large shrub. The ones found on Montara Mountain are all herbaceous annuals.

The leaves are whorled or opposite, and the flowers have a tubular 4 lobed corolla and 4 stamens. The fruit is distinctly two-lobed, which dry and separate into 1 seeded nutlets with hooked bristles.

All our Rubiaceae are of the "Bedstraw" type: sprawling, low growing annuals:

Galium Californicum (Bedstraw), Galium porrigens (Climbing Bedstraw) and Galium aparine (Goosegrass)



Galium aparine:
Goosegrass (Bedstraw)

Rubiaceae (Madder Family)

Flowers: White, tiny, 4 petaled, with alternate bracts; 3 to 5 per cluster.

Blooms: March - July

Leaves: In distinct whorls at regular intervals along stem; bright green, shiny, lightly haired with sharp point on end.

Fruit/Seeds: Spiny small twin seeds.

Location: Along trails and slopes throughout the lower elevations of the mountain.

Status: Native (probably) - Common.

Galium aparine
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Further description & Comment: Long, sprawling annual stems that are four-sided, ribbed and spiny. Sit down in a grassy area along a trail and you'll find it: the whole plant seems to sort of stick to you and your clothing, and the seeds cling to your socks. Some books are not clear on whether it is a native or not.

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I'm not sure of the name "Goosegrass", but the plant (and similar relatives) was collected and dried to make a rustic mattress stuffing, hence the other name of "Bedstraw".

Galium sp. seem to be an effective soothing agent for the effects of Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica). Although I haven't had the chance to try it, I have reliable testimony that it really does work!

Members of the genus have long been used by Native Americans and earlier eurpeans as medicine for skin lesions.


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