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What is it - a new late summer sport involving dogs?

The Daily Bucket is a regular feature of the Backyard Science group.  It is a place to note any observations you have made of the world around you.  Snails, fish, insects, weather, meteorites, climate, birds and/or flowers.  All are worthy additions to the bucket.  Please let us know what is going on around you in a comment.  Include, as close as is comfortable for you, where you are located.
Join me below the tangled Golden Retriever fur to find out.

I'm brushing my dogs quite often these days to remove the seeds of plants from the genus Galium which has over 600 species. Many of the species go by the common name of Bedstraw.  Members of this genus are found all over the country. We call the seeds "velcroballs" because of the way they hook onto the dogs' hair.

I have found two of the most widespread varieties in my yard.  Well, to be accurate, my dogs found them first. One of them is the Fragrant or Sweet-smelling Bedstraw (Galium triflorum).  

 

Cleavers (Galium aparine) or Sweet-scented bedstraw (Galium triflorum)
Fragrant Bedstraw (Galium triflorum)
This is a native perennial with whorls of 6 leaves, small white flowers usually in stalks of 3, and little burs with hooked bristles. It gives off a sweet scent when dried or bruised.  It was used by some native peoples to make a hair rinse that supposedly made hair thick and lustrous.  I may have to try that.

The other kind I've found here goes by a bunch of common names: Cleavers, Goose-grass, Catchweed bedstraw, and Stickywilly.  It is Galium aparine.

Cleavers (Galium aparine) stuck to my pantleg
Cleavers are sprawling annuals and much more clingy than G. triflorum.  Young shoots can be cooked and eaten as greens. Members of the Cowichan people rubbed cleavers on their hands to remove pitch (I wonder if it works on slug slime).  Poultices made from cleavers were used to treat skin ailments, burns, bug bites and stings.  In Sweden, the barbed stems of cleavers would be hooked together to create a sieve for filtering milk.

In general, the bedstraws got their name because the dried and matted foliage used to be used to stuff mattresses.  The barbed hairs caused the vines to cling together, preventing the mattress contents from shifting.  As members of the same family as coffee, bedstraws produce caffeine.  Roasted seeds can be used as a coffee substitute.

Your turn!  What hitchhikers are your pets or pantlegs collecting?  What else are you seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, and touching in your backyard?  Remember to give your approximate location.

I'll be around to respond to your comments once morning arrives on the west coast.



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