Photo: Chris Evans, Illinois Wildlife Action Plan, Bugwood.org, catchweed bedstraw, Galium aparine
Bedstraw grows in landscape beds, on top of turf that is not mowed, fields and along the woodline. It prefers shade to partial shade and moist soil, but can grow under less than ideal conditions. It grows low to the ground or will readily grow up and over other plants. It has short hairs on the stems, leaves and fruits that are like tiny hooks and catch on shoes, clothing and skin. Reproduction is by seed. The young plants have whorls of 4 or more leaves.
Mature plants have whorls with 6-8 leaves and stiff, square stems. The tiny hooks on the stems run along the four ridges. Small white flowers are produced in late May into June. The flowers grow on short stalks in clusters that emerge from the axils of the leaf whorls. The bedstraw fruit develops as two round segments. When mature, the fruit is brown and covered with the tiny hooks, which cling to animal fur and facilitate dispersal.
Since this plant has a very shallow root system, hand removing with gloves is an option.
Bedstraw can be managed with pre-emergent herbicides: oxyfluorfen (Goal 2XL) or oxyfluorfen + trifluralin (Harrell's 75).
For post-emergent herbicide applications, the following herbicides provide control: oxyfluorfen (Goal 2XL) or glyphosate formulations can be used in areas where non-selective herbicides are applicable.