MARSH BEDSTRAW

Galium palustre

Bedstraw Family [Rubiaceae]

month8jun month8june month8jul month8july month8aug

status
statusZnative
flower
flower8white
inner
inner8cream
morph
morph8actino
petals
petalsZ4
stem
stem8square

28th June 2011, Formby, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Grows up to 1m high in marshy areas on neutral to mildly acidic soils.


27th June 2015, Knowsley Safari Pk, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Scrambles through undergrowth.


28th June 2011, Formby, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Whorls of leaves (up to 5) at branch-nodes, mostly 4-5 apart from near the top. Flowers in small bunches - either conical for sub-species ssp. elongatum which has slightly larger flowers (3 - 4.5mm across) or in a flattish inflorescence for ssp. palustre which has slightly smaller flowers (2 - 3.5mm across).


28th June 2011, Formby, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Flowers have 4 white petals, four stamens with brown anthers and two white styles. All leaves lack a minute prickle at the tip, and most are also bluntly rounded at the tip too.


28th June 2011, Formby, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
White styles discoidal (flower bottom left).


27th June 2015, Knowsley Safari Pk, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Un-opened flower buds. This specimen has more prominent short hairs on the leaf edges.


23rd July 2015, Birkdale Dunes, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD


11th June 2016, Cronton ex-Colliery reserve, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD


23rd July 2015, Birkdale Dunes, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
The ovary at the rear is double-barrelled and smooth. It will swell up when the flower is fertilised to become the double-fruit.


28th June 2011, Formby, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
All leaves are bluntish at tip and lack a prickle (mucronate point).


27th June 2015, Knowsley Safari Pk, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Un-like most other Bedstraws it is only slightly rough to the touch, neither the square stems nor leaf edges have much in the way of longer stiff hairs as most other Bedstraws do, mostly they are very short.


11th June 2016, Cronton ex-Colliery reserve, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
Short hairs on stem are directed towards the roots.


11th June 2016, Cronton ex-Colliery reserve, Merseyside. Photo: © RWD
Whilst the short hairs on the leaves are directed towards the stem.


27th June 2015, Knowsley Safari Pk, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
(The lower two 'branches' are actually part of the whorl of leaves)


27th June 2015, Knowsley Safari Pk, Sefton Coast. Photo: © RWD
Between 4 to 5 leaves in a whorl (five on far left) [but the upper part of plant might have but 3 or even only 2 in a 'whorl' - if you can call it that].


Easily mis-identified as : Fen Bedstraw (Galium uliginosum) but that is often purplish, much rougher to the touch with longer and more stiff prickles pointing downwards both on the 4-edges of the square stems and on leaf edges, as well as a mucronate point at the tips of the leaves which is at least 0.5mm long. The prickles are also strongly curved. It has more leaves in a whorl (5-8, as opposed to 4-5 for Marsh Bedstraw). Unlike Marsh Bedstraw which prefers a neutral to slightly acidic soil, Fen Bedstraw prefers fens where the water is alkaline.

Marsh Bedstraw comes as one of two sub-species :

  • Galium palustre ssp. palustre which is more robust and more common with the shorter leaves (<20mm) (about 5mm), slightly smaller flowers (2 - 3.5mm across) which are cylindrical (rather than the conical of ssp. elongatum), flower pedicels (stalks) <4mm long and fruit marginally smaller (1.6mm).
  • Galium palustre ssp. elongatum (Great Marsh-bedstraw) which is less common and has much longer leaves (about 25mm), slightly larger flowers (3 - 4.5mm across) which are conical (rather than the cylindrical of ssp. palustre), flower pedicels (stalks) >4mm long and fruit marginally larger (1.9mm).


  Galium palustre  ⇐ Global Aspect ⇒ Rubiaceae  

Distribution
 family8Bedstraw family8Rubiaceae

 BSBI maps
genus8Galium
Galium
(Bedstraws)

MARSH BEDSTRAW

Galium palustre

Bedstraw Family [Rubiaceae]