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Talkback: Cleavers

Eerrmmm! I think not....we have the national collection here. We run a caravan park of 8 acres and until this year we had hardly any but thi...

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Eerrmmm! I think not....we have the national collection here. We run a caravan park of 8 acres and until this year we had hardly any but this year there has been an explosion and it's everywhere, probably because our customers walk around the park all the time. I don't care much that it is useful it is a flippin pain in the rear and so difficult to eradicate. Like you I am dreading next year!! Good luck with
I couldn't agree more. The stuff seems to hide itself until it suddenly bursts forth rampantly over everything in the border, and as fast as you try to pull it out, it sticks to everything and breaks up into pieces.
Shrinking Violet

A pain, indeed.  Our cats get the seeds caught in their fur, causing tangles, (or helping to spread the wretched plants).

And another pain - I am allergic to them.  If they touch my skin, the roughness causes me to come up in large red weals.  I hate the things.  And the root is so small and fragile that they are the very devil  to get rid of!

It seems to have been a good year for Goosegrass. It is annual that is quick to seed, so you need to pull it out early. The fragile roots don't make any difference - it's a new plant that comes up. I actually don't mind dealing with it; it seems to surrender quite easily.


Never have we seen so much cleavers, goosegrass, johnny run by the hedge, sticky grass - as many names as there are.  I even found a piece up in the golden hop, about 8 foot high, never had that before.  Ir is certainly a very good year for it.  Also in other countries, my sister in laws garden in the Netherlands is overun with it as well - must like the wet? 


Have had loads growing in the garden, what a pain its everywhere. Do you htink it likes the wet weather? As you say Shrinking violet they get caught in the cats fur and as one of them doesnt like being brushed its not easy to get them out. I have always known them as Sweethearts is that a Sussex thing do you think.


I'm sure the Sweethearts name is more widespread than that - I know it from Gloucestershire - but the indispensible The Englishman's Flora by Geoffrey Grigson only lists it as from Somerset, but then language research moves on, and the book is 45 years old.

He quotes the Flora Vectensis (1856) as saying that it was commonly chopped up and fed to young goslings in the Isle of Wight. It is recorded in an old herbal as a cure for skin diseases, scurvy and piles, although what the exact treatment might have been in the latter case I don't know.


Glad im not a gosling or have scurvy. Im sick of them as fast as i get rid of them more appear. Thanks Jo

Like Shrinking Violet, my son and I are allergic to some, but luckily not all, strains of goose grass.  The resulting weals can take months to heal - most of my colleagues thought that my arms had been scalded.  I couldn't believe it when I saw a chef on Great British Menu advocating adding these to salads!!!  Ouch!

Shrinking Violet

I thought I was unlucky, Chrissie, but your allergic reaction sounds much worse than mine, which usually clear up in a couple of days or so.  And as for adding them to salads - I don't think so.  There are many more tasty leaves to choose from.

im sure that this is what i removed from close proximity to my lupines or something very similar its a very sticky feathery plant and as everyone says a real bugger to eradicate.
Lisa  Appleby

After the previous 2 bad winters I had none in the garden but like everyone else this year its everywhere I have come to the conclusion it likes the same weather as the midges because they are rife this year as well.

Here in Scotland it's known as 'Sticky Willy' ( I have no idea why! ) and this year there's more than ever.  I don't think it CAN be eradicated, except by constantly pulling yards and yards of it up, screwing it into a loose ball and burning it.  Trouble is the little 'burrs' drop off or stick to clothes and you end up spreading it further afield.  We're bounded by a river and ag. land and word has it that the ban on certain nitrates on farmland has led to the spread of cleavers, but I don't know if that's actually true.

I suffer extreme allergic reaction to exposure to galium asparine. Red welts, blistering, excruciating itching eventual skin shedding with loss of skin pigmentation in new skin.

Reaction has become much worse as time goes by.  Dermatologist said to give up gardening!  Solution has been to wear gloves, long sleeves and avoid skin contact. washing skin areas in householder vinegar is also very effective in preventing symptoms - straight or to 50% dilution and after, rinsing with water and soap.Vinegar is mildly acidic.

If affected anti-histamine tablets (Telfast (R) or equivalent and topical application of mild steroidal creams seem to help, but eventual shedding replacement of the skin layer signals the end of the itchiness.  

My sheep loved eating this weed which prefers moist, semi-shaded locales.  Worldwide weed, and spreading widely in Australia and personally seen in south of England, EU countries and China.  In my experience is very susceptible to glyphosate systemic herbicide application


It trails all over the place here in West Devon it sticks to the cats fur, but I have never had a problem with it, I dont wear gloves, just pull it out, I never thought of it as being toxic in any way!

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