Cleavers

Galium aparine

About

Cleavers is familiar to many of us as the bristly plant that easily hooks on to our clothing as we walk through the countryside or do the gardening. Children delight in its sticky nature, frequently attaching the angular stems to each other or even their pets. For this reason, it has many other common names such as 'Sticky Bobs', 'Stick-a-back' and 'Kisses' (because lovers cling to each other too). Cleavers is a climbing plant, using its hooks to aid its scrambling progress; the hooks on its fruits attach to animals and help to disperse its seeds.

How to identify

Covered in tiny hooks, the sticky nature of Cleavers is enough to easily identify it. Otherwise, look for whorls of up to eight narrow leaves, sprawling stems, and tiny white flowers that appear from May to September. The small, rounded fruits are also covered in hooks and regularly adorn our outdoor clothing and pets as well!

Where to find it

Widespread.

Habitats

When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • Novermber
  • December
  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September

How can people help

Some of our most abundant species are often treated as 'weeds' when they appear in the garden. Yet they can be extremely beneficial to wildlife, providing food for nectar-loving insects and shelter for minibeasts. Try leaving wilder areas in your garden and see who comes to visit... To find out more about wildlife-friendly gardening, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.

Species information

Common name
Cleavers
Latin name
Galium aparine
Category
Wildflowers
Statistics
Height: up to 1.5m
Conservation status
Common.