€1,75 – €7,50
A fairly tall perennial with numerous tiny yellow flowers. The lady’s bedstraw is a drought-resistant turf plant. It used to be an important source of rennet in cheese making. In Great Britain it is still used in the production of traditional cheeses. Wild, non-cultivar seeds.
Polish name: proper hugs, yellow hugs
Latin name: Galium verum
Family: the coffee family Rubiaceae
Status in Poland: native, very common
Creeping perennial plant that develops both rhizomes and runners at the same time.
Cylindrical four-furrowed aboveground shoots with short internodes ascending to 1 m with whorled arranged leaves (5-12 per each whorl).
The leaves are characterized by lanceolate or linear entire-margined shape, acumination towards the apex, and one vein. They measure up to 30 mm in length and only 1 mm in width. They are usually rolled up and tomentosed.
Ascending at their base, densely hairy inflorescences are slightly more elongated, and at the same time more tightly packed than in related bedstraws. They are dark green on the surface, whitish underside due to fine hair. Single inconspicuous actinomorphic flowers, divided into an undeveloped calyx and a developed short corolla with pointed lobes, are formed on 3-4 mm long stalks. They differ from other native bedstraws with their strong dark yellow color and honey aroma. Four stamens cling alternate with lobes to the corolla’s tube. The pistil of this bedstraw is single with a lower ovary and two styles with head-shaped stigmas with nectar secreted abundantly at the base. Flowers develop from June to September, usually they are cross-pollinated by insects, rarely self-pollinating.
The fruit will be a mericarp cracking into two nuts with a smooth surface (which makes them quite different from the wrinkled nuts of the hedge bedstraw Galium mollugo. ). The orthodox type seeds with TSW 0.49-0.56 g.
It copes best in strong sunlight, although it can withstand light shading.
It prefers dry, medium or slightly compact, moderately rich in humus, neutral or alkaline substrates.
Multiplied either by dividing clumps (in autumn or spring) or by sowing seeds in spring.
It has been gaining in popularity for several years as a turf and ground cover plant, for alpine gardens, urban flower meadows, and bee pastures. It is valued for its resistance to drought.
In our temperate zone lady’s bedstraw used to be an important source of rennet for the production of soft and hard cheeses. It replaced chymosin (renin) from calf stomachs and fig juice. To this day, the lady’s bedstraw is used in the UK to make traditional Gloucester and Chester cheeses, giving them both a strong yellow color and a unique aroma. In Scotland, lady’s bedstraw is still used today as a natural dye for fabrics and dishes.
There are no data on its nectar yield. Nevertheless, some beekeepers appreciate it considerably and sow it as a species attractive to bees.
Lady’s bedstraw is pollinated by small flies.