Table of Contents

Goosegrass: Plant profile

Common names

Cleavers, goosegrass, sticky Willy, stick-a-back, catch weed, coachweed, scratch tongue, Lady’s bedstraw.

Botanical name

Galium aparine


Rubiaceae (Coffee)

Geographical distribution

Native to a wide region of Europe and north and western Asia. Naturalised in many countries around the world. Common in the UK and Ireland.

Where to find Goosegrass

Hedgerows, roadsides, woodland and gardens.

When to find Goosegrass

Young leaves mid to late spring.



Goosegrass is that long hairy plant, well-known amongst children that are thrown on friends’ jumpers to get it stuck on each other’s back for a laugh. It has also been a long standing enemy of the allotment owner, as their ‘sticky’ seeds easily propagate and become a sprawling nuisance in beds and borders.

Culinary uses and recipes with Goosegrass

The tender young shoot tips have a mild flavour and can be used as a convenient vegetable to bulk up spring soups, stews and pies. Wilt them in butter and use in stir fries or omelettes. Use with nettles, sea beet and similar leaf vegetables.

It’s said the roasted seed produces a coffee substitute. It does make sense since goosegrass is in the coffee plant family.

Medicinal properties of Goosegrass

Goosegrass is depurative, diuretic and astringent. Take 1 cup of tea made of fresh leaves three times a day to help tackle urinary problems and alleviate the pain of cystitis. It’s also a febrifuge that helps to bring down a high temperature and reduce fever.

Apply externally to ease ulcers and wounds or treat eczema and psoriasis. Just a word of caution: although not very common, there are some reported cases of contact dermatitis in sensitive people, which causes an unpleasant localized rash and inflammation of the skin when the irritant is activated by sunlight.


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Alvaro Docio

Alvaro Docio

I am the person behind British Local Food. I want to inspire you to go outdoors, familiarise with your local plants and make the best of their culinary and medicinal properties.

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9 thoughts on “Goosegrass”

  1. This also has another colloquial name- For at least the past 40 years since I was a kid this has been locally known as ‘sticky weed’, at least on the Wirral and in North Wales.
    Didn’t know you could have it in omelette though, will give that a try!

    • Hi Katherine,
      It depends. A pad soaked in a goosegrass infusion can be good to ease skin ulcers and inflammations, a cream treatment is best for psoriasis, etc.
      I would recommend you talk to a herbalist for qualified and comprehensive advice.


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