Goosegrass, Cleavers, Clivers… there are a few names for this edible hedgerow plant. It grows in abundance in fields, hedgerows and gardens, in all areas of the UK.
It is one that most folk will recognise, and have probably enjoyed throwing at each other. The hooked hairs on the stems make this plant stick to your clothing, and anything else that touches it.
What does Goosegrass look like?
This prolific plant is easy to recognise. It grows to at least 3 feet tall, and has groups of around 4-8 narrow leaves that cluster around the stem. The flowers are small, and are a greenish white colour. The seeds are small, round balls that stick like Velcro!
There are many edible uses for goosegrass. It is actually part of the same family as coffee plants, and the seeds, when roasted, can be used to produce a drink that tastes like coffee, but is free from caffeine.
Use the tips of the plant, and to cook it first, as when eaten raw the sticky stems and leaves can cause irritation to the mouth, or even become stuck in the throat. The cooking process stops the sticking action of the plant. Blanching in boiling water for half a minute should do it.
Goosegrass has a taste similar to spinach, and you can use it to add interest to a variety of savoury dishes. It is a nutritious addition to soups, savoury pie fillings or creamy pasta dishes.
Health Benefits of Goosegrass
Goosegrass is great for detoxing. It cleanses the lymphatic system, helping to remove waste products from our cells. It is also a diuretic, and helps the kidneys to clear toxins.
Water infused with cleavers is used to soothe skin problems such as acne, and used as a compress it helps to heal wounds, ulcers and abscesses.
So, the humble Goosegrass that grows in abundance all over the countryside, and in many gardens, is somewhat of a wonder herb. It makes sense to get out there, collect some and try it.