Goose Grass
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Goose Grass
ative Photo: Tabish
Common name: Goose Grass, Cleavers, Common bedstraw, Coachweed, Catchweed • Dogri: Khourti, Lauki machheet • Hindi: कुरी Kuri • Nepali: कांगरे झार Kangre Jhar
Botanical name: Galium aparine    Family: Rubiaceae (Coffee family)
Synonyms: Galium uncinatum, Galium pseudoaparine, Aparine vulgaris

Goose Grass is an annual herb with pretty leaves in whorls. The long stems of this climbing plant sprawl over the ground and other plants, reaching heights of 1-1.5 m, occasionally 2 m. The leaves are simple and borne in whorls of 6-8. Leaves are 0.5-4 cm x 4-6 mm, linear, narrowly obovate, oblong, oblanceolate-elliptic, usually narrower below the middle, with a needle-like tip or cuspidate, midrib and margin rough, upper surface mostly hispid. Leaves stalkless or shortly stalked. The white to greenish flowers are 2-3 mm across, with four petals. The flowers occur mostly in the leaf nodes. The fruits are clustered 1-3 seeds together; each seed is 4-6 mm diameter, and is also covered with hooked hairs (a burr) which cling to animal fur, aiding in seed dispersal. It is a common weed in hedges and other low shrubby vegetation, and is also a common weed in arable fields, as well as gardens. The seeds are similar in size to cereal grains, and so are a common contaminant in cereals since they are difficult to filter out. The presence of some seed in cereals is not considered a serious problem as they are not toxic. Goose Grass is found in Europe, North Africa, Asia minor, Siberia, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Himalayas region, from plains to 3500 m. Flowering: March-July.
Medicinal uses: A popular "Spring-cleansing" tonic, Cleavers has been used for centuries to purify the blood and treat skin disease. The whole herb is now given by herbalists for eczematous rashes, swollen lymph glands, and urinary tract problems.

Identification credit: Gurcharan Singh Photographed in Lahaul, HP & Harwan, Kashmir.

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