Genus of the Week
Week of May 25-31
This page has been created for people who want to learn more about plants, especially in the context of their taxonomy (Latin names, etc.). This is by no means an exhaustive list of all available Web resources on a particular genus.
This week's genus:
Galium: The Bedstraws
Number of Species: At Least 100
Root: Greek gala, meaning "milk", a reference to the ancient use of this genus
to curdle milk in order to make cheese.
The plants of the genus Galium are now present mainly as weedy and/or ornamental species,
but they were formerly used for many purposes, including the stuffing of mattresses and pillows.
Species have also been used to dye wool red (G. verum) and as substitute for coffee
(G. aparnine). This genus is the main herbaceous one of the Rubiceae and consists of
mostly temperate species; most other genuses in the family are woody.
Here are a few links to images and descriptions of different Galium species:
- Visit the Sierra Club's web site to learn more about
G. nuttallii ssp. infulare (Nuttall's Island Bedstraw), an endangered species
located off the coast of San Diego. You can also find out about
Galium angustifolium ssp. borregoense (Borrego Bedstraw) and
G. johnstonii (Johnson's Bedstraw), also found in San Diego County.
- Learn to recognize
G. aparnine (Cleavers) by visiting the Weed Guide for British Columbia. Apparently
the species has been designated a "Regional Noxious Weed" by this province.
- The Northern Prairie Science Center has interesting information along with a photo of
- The University of Hawaii has a
really nice photo of an unidentified Galium species, with a close-up of the ripening
- Herbalists may want to stop by the Herbal Medicine section of HealthWorld if you want
(or need) to know the recipe for
curing boils that includes G. aparine.
- Definitely stop by the Berkeley Digital Wildflower Project site. They are keeping a
detailed list of images for the following California species of Galium:
- Forey, Pamela. Wild Flowers of North America. New York, Gallery Books: 1991.
- Heywood, V.H., ed. Flowering Plants of the World. New York, Oxford University Press: 1993.
- Neiring, William A. and Nancy C. Olmstead., eds. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers, Eastern Region. Alfred A. Knopf, New York: 1979.
|If you have comments on "Genus of the Week" or suggestions for a future genus, |
Click on the envelope and send me some email!
Current Genus of the Week
Jenn's Home Page