Rubiaceae: a very pretty perennial growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in), said to be hardy down to zone 3, thousands of bright yellows flowers are produced from July to August, often seen growing wild on road verges, native to most of Europe, including Britain, to Western Asia.
USES: The leaves are edible and can be eaten either raw or cooked, the seeds can also be roasted and used as a coffee substitute, the flowering tops are distilled in water to make a refreshing acid beverage. Other uses include, the plant being used as a rennet to coagulate plant milks, and the yellow dye from the flowering stems being used as a food colouring.
Lady's bedstraw has a long history of use as an herbal medicine, though it is little used in modern medicine. Its main application is as a diuretic and as a treatment for skin complaints, a powder made from the fresh plant is used to soothe reddened skin and reduce inflammation, whilst the plant is also used as a poultice on cuts, skin infections, and slow-healing wounds. Harvest the plant as it comes into flower, it can be dried for later use.
In the past, the dried plants were used to stuff mattresses, as the coumarin scent of the plants acts as a flea killer. The flowers were also used to coagulate milk in cheese manufacture and, in Gloucestershire, to colour the cheese Double Gloucester. The plant is also used to make red madder-like and yellow dyes. In Denmark, the plant (known locally as gul snerre) is traditionally used to infuse spirits, making the uniquely Danish drink bjæsk.
Mythology: Frigg was the goddess of married women, in Norse mythology. She helped women give birth to children, and as Scandinavians used the plant Lady's Bedstraw (Galium verum) as a sedative, they called it Frigg's grass. In Romanian folklore, it is called sânziana and it is linked to the Sânziene fairies and their festival on June 24th.
GROWING INFORMATION: The seed is best sown in situ as soon as it is ripe in late summer, it can be sown in situ throughout, but it may be slower to germinate. The plant can be successfully divided throughout the growing season if the divisions are kept moist until they are established, easy.
APPROX. 1000+ SEEDS
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