Smooth bedstraw

Prepared by Jennifer L. D’Appollonio, Assistant Scientist, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469. Updated February 2018.

Scientific name: Galium mollugo L.

Common name(s): smooth bedstraw, hedge bedstraw, whorled bedstraw, false baby’s breath, wild madder

Links: USDA PLANTS Profile, Go Botany

Images: (to see enlargements [PC]: click on image, then right click and choose “view image”)


– perennial

-smooth stem

-leaves are

  • whorled
  • simple
  • entire

-named after its set of 6-8 whorled leaves

-reproduces vegetatively and by seed

-height ranged from 25-120 centimeters tall

-has a strong tap root and woody rhizomes

– may be confused with G. album or G. sylvaticum; see left sidebar of Go Botany webpage

– can hybridize with G. verum (also present in wild blueberry fields), although the hybrid is rare and only known from MA thus far; see also Go Botany webpage


-disturbed areas

-meadows and fields

-river shores

-moist and cool temperate habitats


-livestock avoid this species


– In field experiments by Kleijnand Snoeijing (1997) in the Netherlands,

  • fluroxypyr applied yearly for 3 yr at 0.1 kg a.i. ha–1
  • when plants were about 20cm tall
  • decreased the percentage of plots in which G. mollu-go was present from 90% in the second year to 10% in the third year

-UK study reported reductions in biomass, coverage and flower production with use of mecoprop drift

  •  found to be effective when applied at a rate of2.0 kg a.i. ha–1 to actively growing plants in a French mead-ow (Psarski et al. 1971)
  • Two years following application,the frequency of G. mollugo was reduced to 0% when it was previously 22%

-does not tolerate tillage

-clipping can decrease seed production

Natural History:

-native to Eurasia

-introduced to North America as an ornamental



Haines, A., Farnsworth, E., Morrison, G., & New England Wild Flower Society. (2011). New England Wildflower Society’s Flora Novae Angliae: A manual for the identification of native and naturalized higher vascular plants of New England. Framingham, MA: New England Wild Flower Society. p. 826.

Go Botany. “Galium Mollugo L.” Galium Mollugo (Whorled Bedstraw): Go Botany, 2021,

Mersereau , D, and A DiTommaso. The Biology of Canadian Weeds. 121.Galium MollugoL. Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, Dec. 2002,