perennial wildflower is 4-20" tall at maturity, developing weak
branching stems that have a tendency to lean on adjacent vegetation as
they become longer. These stems are light green, angular, and branched;
their edges are either smooth or slightly rough from short bristly
Along the stems, there are whorls of mostly 6 leaves; often there are
whorls of 4 leaves immediately below the cymes or panicles of flowers.
Individual leaves are up to ¾" long and 1/8" (3 mm.) across; they are
linear-elliptic in shape with short bristly hairs along their margins.
The upper leaf surface is medium to dark green, hairless, and shiny.
The leaves are
sessile at their bases, while their tips are either blunt or acute.
upper stems terminate in either small cymes or large panicles of
flowers; the size of an inflorescence is variable depending on the size
of the plant and environmental conditions. Each inflorescence is
abundantly branched, terminating in groups of 2-3 flowers on short
divergent pedicels. The pedicels of the flowers are light green,
angular, and hairless. Each flower is about 1/8" across or a little
less, consisting of a white corolla with 4 pointed lobes, 4 stamens, 2
styles, and a 2-celled ovary that is without bristles. Each cell of the
ovary is globoid-ovoid in shape and joined together with the other cell
one side. The blooming period occurs during early summer, lasting about
2-3 weeks. The flowers are later replaced with smooth 2-celled fruits
that change color from light green to purple and finally brown. Each
cell of the fruit usually contains a single seed (or sometimes none).
The root system is fibrous and rhizomatous. Small colonies of plants
often develop from the rhizomes.
The preference is medium shade to dappled sunlight, mesic to dry
conditions, and soil containing loam, clay-loam, sand, or rocky
material with decaying organic matter. This bedstraw is more tolerant
of dry conditions than most species in its genus. It could
be cultivated as a ground cover underneath trees.
The native Shining Bedstraw is common
Illinois (see Distribution
). Habitats include rich mesic woodlands,
upland woodlands, open rocky woodlands, sandy woodlands, upper slopes
and tops of bluffs, shaded cliffs, and woodland edges. Generally, this
bedstraw is found in upland wooded areas where deciduous trees,
especially oaks, are present.
The small flowers are cross-pollinated by
small bees and
flies, including Masked bees (Hylaeus
), Halictid bees
and Syrphid flies. These insects suck nectar from
the flowers. Other insects feed on the foliage, flower tissue, or plant
of Galium spp.
(bedstraws). These insect feeders include the
caterpillars of such moths as
(Drab Brown Wave), and Hyles gallii
(Galium Sphinx). Another insect, Myzus
(Black Cherry Aphid),
uses bedstraws as summer host plants. Because
the stiff bristly hairs of the leaves can cling to passing objects,
animals may play a minor role in distributing the seeds to
The photographs were taken at a wooded bluff in
Illinois and the edge of a sandy woodland in NW Indiana.
Shining Bedstraw can be identified by its attractive shiny leaves in
whorls of 6, its smooth fruits, and its preference for upland wooded