Covered in tiny hooked bristles, the leaves, stems and seeds of cleavers or goosegrass Galium aparine, make their presence known by clinging on to passing objects such as animals and humans.
The name Galium comes from the Greek word, gala, for milk. This plant, and other bedstraws are known for their ability to curdle milk, make cheese and strain milk using the plant a sieve. Aparine is from the Greek word, apara, which means 'to seize', which the plant does to any passing human or animal.
Sprawling through hedgerows and ditches, this common straggly herb has been extolled for its healing and detoxifying properties, with the fresh new tops being used as an ingredient in rural 'spring drinks'. The leaves and stems of the plant can be cooked as a leaf vegetable, if harvested before the seeds develop.