Madder family (Rubiaceae)
This plant is an annual that becomes 4-16" tall (rarely taller). It is
usually branched at the base, dividing into several leafy unbranched
stems that are erect to ascending. The stems are light to medium green,
4-angled, and covered with both long and short hairs. At intervals
along each stem, there are whorls of 4 spreading leaves. These leaves
are 5-11 mm. long, 2-4 mm. across, and sessile; they are elliptic
to elliptic-oblong in shape, while their margins are toothless
(entire), strongly ciliate with long hairs, and curved downward. The
the leaves are bluntly acute. The leaves have prominent midveins. The
upper and lower leaf surfaces are light to medium green and sparsely
covered with short appressed hairs; some longer and more spreading
hairs may also be present.
Either solitary or small cymes of 2-4
flowers develop from the axils of the lower-middle to upper leaves.
Each perfect flower is about 1.5 mm. (1/16") across, consisting of a
pale yellow 4-lobed corolla, a short inconspicuous calyx, 4 short
stamens with yellow anthers, and a green pistil. The lobes of
corolla are oblong-ovate in shape and widely spreading. Some flowers
may be imperfect, lacking either male or female reproductive organs.
The peduncles of the cymes are 2-4 mm. long and hairy. The pedicels of
the flowers are about 1 mm. long. While they are still in bloom, the
flowers are usually held above the whorled leaves. Shortly after they
bloom, the peduncles droop and the developing fruits of the flowers are
below the whorled leaves. The blooming period occurs from late spring
to mid-summer, lasting 1-2 months, if not longer. The fruits are
bilobed-globoid in shape and smooth (lacking prickles), spanning about
1.5 mm. across at maturity. Each fruit has 2 seeds. The root system
consists of a slender taproot. This plant spreads by reseeding itself.
The preference is full or partial sun and mesic to dry conditions.
Various soil types are tolerated, including those that contain
clay-loam and sandy loam. Most growth and develop occurs during the
spring and early summer. This weedy plant dies down by autumn.
& Habitat: The non-native Foothill
Bedstraw (Galium pedemontanum) is apparently rare in
Illinois; there are records of it occurring in three counties
(Champaign, Lawrence, and Mason counties); see the Distribution
(ILPIN; Marcum et al., 2013; Phillipe et al., 1996). However, this
plant is undoubtedly more common than these records indicate, and it is
probably still spreading. Foothill Bedstraw is native to southern
Europe, Asia Minor, and adjacent areas of Asia. It was first detected
in the United States near Lexington, Kentucky, in 1933 (Wikipedia).
Since then, it
has spread to many states in the eastern and south-central United
Disturbed habitats include edges of yards, grassy fields,
roadsides, areas along railroads, fence rows, areas along the base of
buildings, areas at the base of rock-masonry walls, and waste ground.
Natural habitats include thickets, sandy savannas, woodland borders,
and upland prairies. However, Foothill Bedstraw is found primarily in
disturbed habitats that are not subject to regular mowing in the United
Associations: The tiny flowers probably attract
small bees and flower flies. Both pollen and small amounts of nectar
are available as floral rewards to such visitors. Insects that feed
destructively on bedstraw species (Galium spp.)
include various species of aphids and moth larvae.
Location: Along a metal fence near a sidewalk in
In Illinois, this non-native bedstraw (Galium) can
be recognized by its
tiny yellow flowers (about 1.5 mm. across) on short cymes, whorls of 4
leaves, smooth fruits on peduncles that droop below the leaves, and
hairy foliage. Another non-native species that uncommonly occurs in
Illinois, Galium verum (Yellow Bedstraw), also has
yellow flowers, but
they are produced in larger inflorescences and they are more
species of bedstraw within the state have white, greenish white, or
purplish red flowers. Because
Foothill Bedstraw, also referred to as Piedmont Bedstraw, is rather
small in size and its flowers are
inconspicuous, it is easy to overlook. In Europe, this plant is usually
referred to by another scientific name, Cruciata pedemontana.