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(bedstraw), a genus of plants of the family Rubiaceae. The plants are perennial or annual herbs; a few species are subshrubs. The stems are mostly square; some are clinging, with decurved spines. The leaves are whorled or, rarely, opposite. The tiny flowers, which are most commonly white or yellow, are gathered in cymose clusters or, sometimes, are solitary. The rotate or cup-shaped corolla is trimerous or tetramerous. The fruit is dry (rarely juicy) and dehiscent, dividing into two one-seeded sections.
There are approximately 400 species of bedstraw, distributed throughout the world. The plants are found predominantly in the northern hemisphere. About 100 species are encountered in the meadows, forests, glades, and thickets of the USSR. The plants grow along fences, roads, and shorelines. Sometimes they grow as weeds. The yellow bedstraw (G. verum) is found in the forest-steppe and steppe zones. Its flowers yield green and yellow dyes which are used to color wool, and its roots are the source of red dye. The white bedstraw (G. mollugo) also is often encountered in the forest and forest-steppe zones. Both species, as well as others, are nectariferous. The species G. aparine grows among cereal plantings, sometimes aiding their lodging. G. spurium grows among crops, in gardens, and on long-fallow land.
REFERENCESPobedimova, E. G. “Podmarennik.” in Flora SSSR, vol. 23. Moscow-Leningrad, 1958.
T. V. EGOROVA