Galium verum
Common Name: yellow spring bedstraw 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Rubiaceae
Native Range: Europe, southwestern Asia
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 2.50 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to September
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Drought, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil

Culture

Easily grown in average, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Best in part shade in hot summer climates. Prefers moist soils where it will often spread, albeit somewhat invasively at times, by creeping roots, self-seeding or stem-rooting where the stems touch the ground. Avoid heavy, poorly-drained soils. Generally performs well in dry soils (rhizomes and well-branched taproots store water).

Noteworthy Characteristics

Galium verum, commonly called yellow bedstraw, is a rhizomatous, somewhat weedy perennial herb that typically grows to 8-30" tall and to 36" wide on erect to sprawling stems. It is native to Eurasia and Africa, but has been introduced and has naturalized throughout much of southern Canada and northern U.S. (Newfoundland to British Columbia south to California, Kansas and North Carolina) where it is typically found in a variety of locations including dry-sandy meadows, rocky outcrops, waste areas, roadsides, banks, dunes and seashores. In Missouri, it has been found in northern Adair County. Fragrant bright yellow 4-petalled flowers clustered in crowded panicles bloom in summer (July-September) at the tops of wiry upright stems clad with whorls of stalkless, linear, needle-like, bristle-tipped leaves (6-8 leaves per whorl). Flowers give way to glossy, glabrous, black schizocarps which ripen in August-September. Additional common names for this plant include lady's bedstraw (aromatic foliage used in medieval times for stuffing mattresses) and cheese rennet (plant parts used to curdle milk for cheesemaking). Yellow dye from flowering stems has been used as a food coloring for cheese or butter. Red dye can be made from the roots. Roasted seed has been used as a coffee substitute. Plant material was reportedly used in the crib of Jesus Christ.

Genus name comes from the Greek word gala meaning milk. G. vernus can be used to curtle milk for making cheese.

Specific epithet means true to type or standard.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Somewhat weedy. Susceptible to powdery mildew, powdery mildew, rust and fungal leaf spot.

Garden Uses

Interesting plant for sunny naturalized areas, cottage gardens or slopes. May be a bit too weedy for borders.