Phylum: Anthophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Gentianales - Family: Rubiaceae
Heath Bedstraw is one of several white-flowered Galium species that require close and careful study to separate with confidence.
This low-growing perennial with square, hairless stems rarely reaches a height of more than 20cm. It has erect flowering stems, and prostrate barren stems that form loose mats. The slim, sharp leaves are forward-facing and set in whorls of six to eight. The white four-petalled flowers are 3.5 to 4.5mm across, and they give off a rather sickly smell.
Heath Bedstraw often grows in bare rocky places. This plant particularly favours heathland, moorland and dry, low-nutrient grassy hill slopes on acidic soils. The plants shown above were photographed in mid July on Llanllwni Mountain, overlooking the Teifi Valley in West Wales.
Heath Bedstraw is widespread and common throughout most of Britain except for some parts of eastern England, and it is also plentiful throughout Ireland. This species is also plantiful across northern and central Europe and its range extends into large parts of Asia. It is reported to occur in parts of the USA and Canada as a naturalised introduction.
Heath Bedstraw flowers from May through to August.
Cleavers Galium aparine, commonly also referred to as Goosegrass, is another of the many Galium species; the plant stems and leaves as well as the fruits are covered with tiny curved spines that stick to clothing.
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