You probably know this weed well, for its clingy tendencies. In the Northwest, we affectionately call it sticky weed. It comes in the door on our dog, our socks, and the backs of our sweaters. Also known as clivers, cleavers, goosegrass, catchweed bedstraw, or sticky willy, this little bugger with tiny hooked hairs that’ll stick to you better than velcro, now holds a special place in my kitchen culinary arts: I use it in a simple spring cleansing drink, thanks to the advice of a friend.
The Kew Royal Botanic Gardens has this to say about its uses:
Galium Aparine — “The whole plant is edible, though not particularly tasty, and in China, for example, it is eaten as a vegetable. Its seeds can be roasted to prepare a sort of coffee substitute. It is also reputed to have a number of medicinal properties, having been used in traditional medicine (usually as an infusion) to treat kidney problems, skin disorders and high blood pressure among other ailments. Archaeological evidence suggests that it may have been used in this way for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Cleavers is still used by medical herbalists today, although scientific evidence regarding its effectiveness is still lacking.”
I use it as a spring “cleanse” that might be good for my kidneys but just tastes wonderful, and excites my need to get the most out of the plants around me. As I weed it out of my garden, I set it aside to be washed and then stuffed into a jar filled with fresh water and throw it into the fridge.
Twenty-four hours later, we have a refreshing sticky weed infusion that tastes like spring green. It thickens the water a little, too, (or maybe I’m just imagining that) making it feel silky on its way down.
4 thoughts on “Sticky Weed Cleansing Drink”
I’m all for finding a use for this omnipresent plant. Thanks!
I recently learned about how awesome this “weed” is, and made an infused vinegar with it this year to preserve it for use throughout the year (or, well, as long as it lasts – probably not the full year since I only made a quart so far!). I stuffed a jar with cleavers, filled to cover with vinegar, and put in a cool, dark cupboard. I checked on it every day or so to push the cleavers back down under the vinegar if they surfaced, and strained after 6 weeks or so. It’s great as a springy tonic, and I’m betting it would be good mixed into a salad dressing too!
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I have been pulling this sticky matting plant from my yard for years. BUT..funny thing is that I brought a sample to a weed eating workshop and found out that what I was discarding was a good anti-inflammatory with no side effects!! I was given the advise to dry it and make it into a tea. So I put MOUNDS of it on an extended (for just this) dining table covered in newspaper and turned it every day for weeks and weeks. Then I bagged it in gallon bags. I really like the tea flavor though some do not. The REMARKABLE thing is that what I thought was a pest was waving its sticky leaves at me and saying “YOU could use me, ya know”! Sometimes what we think we don’t want, we need!! LOL, JOKE is on me! Kinda like dandelions..their purpose is to detoxify your yard…so don’t get rid of them!!
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