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Medical disclaimer: always check with a physician before consuming wild plants, and make positive identification in the field using a good source such as Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West.  Michael Moore also has a glossary of medical terms in his books, and maps in later editions. ) 
Common Name: Cleavers, Goosegrass, Catchweed Bedstraw, Stickywilly, Coachweed 
Latin Name:
Galium aparine
Family: Rubiaceae
All States except Hawaii; In Canada; British Columbia to Quebec, plus Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia.
Photos: Here
Appearance and Habitat: A weak-stemmed, reclining plant with backward-booked bristles on stems and leaves, and clusters of 1-3 (usually 2) very small white flowers on stalks rising from whorled leaf axils. The common name is appropriate since the bristles cause the stems, leaves, and fruits to cleave to clothes and the fur of animals. The fact that geese eat the plants accounts for the other common name. The plants are also known as Bedstraws since the pleasant smelling foliage of a yellow-flowered species (G. verum), was used to stuff mattresses in medieval times.(1)  An abundant native, annual, that blooms April to June. Variety of habitats, sea level to mid-elevations in the mountains. Scrambling annual, the weak stem 1-10 dm. tall, little branched, square with retrorse hooks on the angles. Leaves: Leaves mostly in whorls of 8, tipped with a sharp point, narrow, 1-nerved, 1-4 cm. long, with stiff, recurved hairs on the margins and mid-rib beneath. Flowers: Inflorescences of 3-5 flowers on peduncles in the leaf axils which surpass the whorl of leaves, usually with a whorl of small leaves at the summit, or the peduncles in threes at the ends of short, axillary branches; pedicels straight and ascending; calyx obsolete; corolla rotate, 1-2 mm. wide, greenish-white, the 4 lobes much longer than the tube; styles 2, short; ovary 2-celled, inferior. Fruits: Fruit dry, 2-4 mm. long, covered with hooked bristles.(2)   Hedgerows and as a weed of cultivated land. Moist and grassy places on most types of soil. Europe, oncluding Britain, from Scandanavia south and east to Spain, N. and W. Asia. An annual growing to 1.2 m (4ft) by 3 m (9ft 10in). It is hardy to zone 3 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jun to August, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September.(3)  Of all the Galium species in the west, Cleavers is the most common. Most are perennials, except Cleavers which is an annual. They can all be used interchangeable for their medicinal qualities. Cleavers has a square stem with bristly edges and can form vine like mats over other bushes. Large plants may attain a height of 6 or 7 feet, if untangled and spread out. All Galiums are either small shrubs, with several weak stems, or have the habit of vining like Cleavers. The flowers are white and star shaped. The seeds that develop after the flowers are in pairs from each flower and are bristly and green. The leaves are roundly lanceloate and form circular rosettes along the stem comprising of 6 or 8 leaves. It can be found from sea level to 10,000 feet, but in the southwest it is usually found in the mountains. Watch for it along streamsides, moist embankments, pastures and in the shade under trees. Most species were introduced form Europe.(4)
Warnings: The sap of the plant can cause contact dermatitis in sensitive people. Can cause sever skin irritation.(5)
Edible Uses:The tender young shoot tips – raw or cooked as a pot-herb. A rather bitter flavour that some people find unpalatable, they are best used in the spring. They make a useful addition to vegetable soups. It is said that using this plant as a vegetable has a slimming effect on the body. The roasted seed is a coffee substitute. One of the best substitutes, it merely needs to be dried and lightly roasted and has much the flavour of coffee. A decoction of the whole dried plant gives a drink equal to tea.(6)
Medicinal Uses :Goosegrass has a long history of domestic medicinal use and is also used widely by modern herbalists. A valuable diuretic, it is often taken to treat skin problems such as seborrhoea, eczema and psoriasis, and as a general detoxifying agent in serious illnesses such as cancer. The whole plant, excluding the root, is alterative, antiphlogistic, aperient, astringent, depurative, diaphoretic, diuretic, febrifuge, tonic and vulnerary. It is harvested in May and June as it comes into flower and can be used fresh or dried for later use. It is used both internally and externally in the treatment of a wide range of ailments, including as a poultice for wounds, ulcers and many other skin problems, and as a decoction for insomnia and cases where a strong diuretic is beneficial. It has been shown of benefit in the treatment of glandular fever, ME, tonsillitis, hepatitis, cystitis etc. The plant is often used as part of a spring tonic drink with other herbs. A tea made from the plant has traditionally been used internally and externally in the treatment of cancer. One report says that it is better to use a juice of the plant rather than a tea. The effectiveness of this treatment has never been proved or disproved. A number of species in this genus contain asperuloside, a substance that produces coumarin and gives the scent of new-mown hay as the plant dries. Asperuloside can be converted into prostaglandins (hormone-like compounds that stimulate the uterus and affect blood vessels), making the genus of great interest to the pharmaceutical industry. A homeopathic remedy has been made from the plant.(7)  When collecting the vine type, simply wad them up, take them home and hang them in the shade. For the smooth stemmed variety bundle them in 1/2 inch bundles and place them in a short cardboard box, in the shade to dry. The plant is good for treating urinary tract and skin problems. The tea, made with a tablespoon of the dried herb is pleasant to drink and is of value for treating hepatitis and inflammations of the lower uninary tract. Take the tea 3 times daily, an hour before each meal. The tea is also useful in urinary tract gravel, as it acts as a diuretic. The fresh plant can be juiced and is a bit stronger than the tea. To use the juice use 2 or 3 teaspoons in a cup of water 3 times a day; once again an hour before meals. Either the juice or tea can also be used on slow to heal burns or ulcerated skin. It also has value for cancerous ulcers; proven by homeopaths.( 8 )
Foot Notes: (1)http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=GAAP2
Foot Notes: (2 )http://biology.burke.washington.edu/herbarium/imagecollection.php?Genus=Galium&Species=aparine
Foot Notes: ( 3, 5, 6, 7 )http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Galium+aparine
Foot Notes: (4, 8 ) Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West 2nd Edition, by Michael Moore, pages 85-86, Publisher: Museum of New Mexico Press, Copyright 2003, ISBN 0-89013-454-5

Common Name: Dandelion, Chicoria, Blowball,
Latin Name:
Taraxacum officinale
Family: Compositae
All States, all of Canada.
Photos: Here
Appearance and Habitat: Non-native species. JAM. A common weed, its solitary flower head, each with numerous yellow ray flowers, tops a hollow, leafless stalk that rises from the center of a rosette of toothed leaves. Stem juice is milky. Unpublished. Non-native species. JAM. The popular name comes from dent de lion, French for lions tooth, referring to the teeth on the leaves. The young leaves may be used in salads and soups; wine is made from the heads. Several species, some native to high mountain meadows, are similar to the Common Dandelion but may have reddish-brown fruits and outer bracts that do not curl.(1)    Blooms March through October. Common in disturbed areas, fields, lawns, from the coast to the alpine. Mostly glabrous perennial herb from a fleshy taproot, strictly scapose, the scape to 50 cm. high, with milky juice. Leaves all basal, oblanceolate, 6-40 cm. long and 0.7-15 cm. wide, with lobes that angle backward, the terminal lobe the largest, tapering to a narrow base. Flowers: Scape hollow, with a few soft hairs upward, terminating in a large, solitary head; involucre 1.5-2.5 cm. high, the bracts in two series, the outer shorter, the inner 13-21, these at first erect, becoming reflexed; corollas all ligulate, bright yellow; the mature achenes and the white pappus form a ball.(2)   A very common weed of grassland and cultivated ground throughout most of the northern hemisphere, including Britain. A perennial growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) by 0.3 m (1ft). It is hardy to zone 5 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Apr to May, and the seeds ripen from May to June.(3)   A very common weed, it has no stems. The leaves, hollow flower stems, grow directly from the root. If the plant you found has divided stems or branched stems, it is not Dandelion. The most potent, as for medical use, are found in the mountains of the west. The leaves and roots are stronger than those found in the lower altitudes. It can grow almost to the tree line and is found in all mountains of the west.(4)
Warnings: This plant has been mentioned in various books on poisonous plants but any possible toxins will be of very low concentration and toxicity. There are reports that some people have suffered dermatitis as a result of touching the plant, this is probably caused by the latex in the leaves and stems.(5)
Edible Uses:Leaves – raw or cooked. When used in salads, they are rather bitter, though less so in the winter. Tender young leaves are considerably less bitter than older leaves. The leaves are often blanched (by excluding light from the growing plant) before use. This will make them less bitter, but they will also contain less vitamins and minerals. A very nutritious food, 100g of the raw leaves contain about 2.7g. protein, 9.2g. carbohydrate, 187mg Calcium, 66mg phosphorus, 3.1mg iron, 76mg sodium, 397mg potassium, 36mg magnesium, 14000iu vitamin A, 0.19mg vitamin B1, 0.26mg vitamin B2, 35mg vitamin C. Root – raw or cooked. Bitter. A turnip-like flavour. Flowers – raw or cooked. A rather bitter flavour, the unopened flower buds can be used in fritters and they can also be preserved in vinegar and used like capers. Both the leaves and the roots are used to flavour herbal beers and soft drinks such as ‘Dandelion and Burdock’. The roots of 2 year old plants are harvested in the autumn, dried and roasted to make a very good coffee substitute. It is caffeine-free. A pleasant tea is made from the flowers. They are also used to make wine – all green parts should be removed when making wine to prevent a bitter flavour. The leaves and the roots can also be used to make tea.(6)
Medicinal Uses :The dandelion is a commonly used herbal remedy. It is especially effective and valuable as a diuretic because it contains high levels of potassium salts and therefore can replace the potassium that is lost from the body when diuretics are used. All parts of the plant, but especially the root, are slightly aperient, cholagogue, depurative, strongly diuretic, hepatic, laxative, stomachic and tonic. The root is also experimentally cholagogue, hypoglycaemic and a weak antibiotic against yeast infections. The dried root has a weaker action. The roots can be used fresh or dried and should be harvested in the autumn when 2 years old. The leaves are harvested in the spring when the plant is in flower and can be dried for later use. A tea can be made from the leaves or, more commonly, from the roots. The plant is used internally in the treatment of gall bladder and urinary disorders, gallstones, jaundice, cirrhosis, dyspepsia with constipation, oedema associated with high blood pressure and heart weakness, chronic joint and skin complaints, gout, eczema and acne. The plant has an antibacterial action, inhibiting the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, Pneumococci, Meningococci, Bacillus dysenteriae, B. typhi, C. diphtheriae, Proteus etc. The latex contained in the plant sap can be used to remove corns, warts and verrucae. The latex has a specific action on inflammations of the gall bladder and is also believed to remove stones in the liver. A tea made from the leaves is laxative. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Taraxacum officinale for dyspepsia, urnary tract infections, liver and gallbladder complaints, appetite loss. (7)   This plant should not be stored longer than a year, as it loses a lot of potency after that period. Collect the leaves and flowers and dry them in a cheesecloth fold, hung in the shade in an airy spot. You can also dry the leaves and flowers in a short cardboard box with the cheesecloth under them for support. The roots need to be split in half and dried in a similar fashion to the leaves and flowers. The roots can also be used for a fresh tincture at a ratio of 1 part root to 2 parts 45% vodka by weight. The leaves and roots and a safe diuretic and can be taken as needed, as there is no toxic effects from using Dandelion. Using it increases the water and waste in the urine helping to dissolve urinary stones. Taking frequent doses of the fresh root tincture, one-half teaspoon, will help with kidney infections and restoring liver function after hepatitis. At one teaspoon of the tincture, taken often through the day, it will help treat liver or spleen cogestion. You can also use the dried leaves for tea, at a ratio of 1 part dried leaf to 32 parts water, by weight. Bring the water to a boil, remove it from the heat, add the leaf material and allow it to sit for 6 to 8 hours. You can take from 3-6 ounces as needed. The tea is helpful for chronic constipation caused by age. To help dissolve urinary stones, boil up to an ounce of the dried chopped root in a quart of water and drink in several doses through the day. This takes about 10 days to find relief. You can also drink two tablespoons of the root tincture twice a day for 10 days to remove urinary gravel.( 8 )
Foot Notes: (1)http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=TAOF
Foot Notes: (2 )http://biology.burke.washington.edu/herbarium/imagecollection.php?Genus=Taraxacum&Species=officinale
Foot Notes: ( 3, 5, 6, 7 )http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Taraxacum+officinale
Foot Notes: (4, 8 ) Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West 2nd Edition, by Michael Moore, pages 103-105, Publisher: Museum of New Mexico Press, Copyright 2003, ISBN 0-89013-454-5

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