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Limestone Bedstraw

Galium sterneri

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Rubiaceae (Bedstraw)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
20 centimetres tall
Grassland, rocky places.

White, 4 petals
The small flowers of Limestone Bedstraw are 4-petalled and grow in tight, domed clusters. This plant is similar to Heath Bedstraw but Limestone Bedstraw is more mat-forming with creamier white petals.
2-parted nutlet with tiny dome-shaped warts.
A very low growing flower with unstalked narrow leaves in whorls of 7 to 8. The leaves are more pointed than the similar-looking Heath Bedstraw. The hairs on the leaf margins point backwards with Limestone Bedstraw but with Heath Bedstraw they point forwards. The stems of Limestone Bedstraw are 4-angled. As its name suggests, Limestone Bedstraw frequently grows on limestone pavements.
Other Names:
Razor Grass, Sterner's Bedstraw.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Galium sterneri, also known as Sterner's bedstraw or razor grass, is a species of flowering plant that is native to Europe and Asia. It is a member of the madder family and is known for its small, white flowers and narrow, pointed leaves. Galium sterneri is an annual or biennial plant that grows up to 50 centimeters (20 inches) tall and has a thin, upright stem. The leaves are linear in shape and are a bright green color, with a distinctive, sharp point at the end. The plant produces small, white flowers that are shaped like a star and are arranged in clusters. Galium sterneri is found in a variety of habitats, including grasslands, meadows, and along roadsides. It is a popular garden plant and is known for its medicinal properties, with the plant being used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments.

Limestone Bedstraw: An Overview

Limestone bedstraw (Galium sterneri) is a plant species native to the limestone cliffs and hillsides of Central Europe. This herbaceous perennial plant is part of the Rubiaceae family and is known for its delicate, bright yellow flowers that bloom from June to August. The plant can grow up to 20cm in height and is a valuable species for wildlife and biodiversity, as it provides a food source for pollinators and other insects.

Unique Characteristics

One of the unique characteristics of Limestone bedstraw is its leaves, which are arranged in whorls of six to eight and are covered in fine hairs. The leaves are also edible and have a slightly bitter taste, which makes them a good addition to salads or as a garnish. Additionally, the plant has a low-growing habit, which makes it an excellent choice for rock gardens, borders, and naturalistic planting schemes.

Growing Limestone Bedstraw

Limestone bedstraw is a hardy plant that can grow in a variety of soils, including alkaline and rocky soils. However, it prefers well-drained soils and is best grown in a sunny to partially shaded location. The plant can be propagated by division in spring or by seed, which should be sown in a cold frame in the autumn or winter.

Benefits for Wildlife

In addition to providing a food source for pollinators and other insects, Limestone bedstraw is also beneficial for wildlife in other ways. The plant provides a habitat for small mammals, reptiles, and birds, and it also has the ability to stabilize soil on steep slopes and prevent erosion.

Cultural Significance

In addition to its ecological benefits, Limestone bedstraw also has cultural significance. Historically, the plant was used for medicinal purposes, as it was believed to have properties that could help with various ailments, such as skin conditions and digestive problems. In folklore, the plant was also used in love spells, as it was thought to have the power to bring couples together.

Conservation Status

Despite its many benefits, Limestone bedstraw is considered a vulnerable species, as its natural habitats are threatened by human activities such as construction and land development. In addition, the plant is also threatened by the effects of climate change, which is altering the conditions of its native habitats. Conservation efforts are underway to protect Limestone bedstraw and its habitats, and it is important for individuals to play their part by planting the species in their gardens and supporting conservation initiatives.

Gardening with Limestone Bedstraw

Limestone bedstraw is an excellent choice for gardeners who are looking for a hardy and low-maintenance plant that is easy to grow. The plant is versatile and can be used in a variety of gardening styles, including rock gardens, borders, and naturalistic planting schemes. Limestone bedstraw can be grown in a range of soils, including alkaline and rocky soils, and it prefers a sunny to partially shaded location.

Maintenance and Care

Limestone bedstraw is a low-maintenance plant that requires minimal care. However, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure the health and vitality of the plant.

Watering: Limestone bedstraw is drought-tolerant and does not require frequent watering. However, during prolonged periods of drought, the plant may benefit from supplemental watering.

Pruning: Limestone bedstraw does not require regular pruning. However, after the flowers have faded, the plant may be cut back to encourage new growth.

Fertilizing: Limestone bedstraw does not require regular fertilizing. However, if the plant is growing in poor soil, a balanced fertilizer can be applied in the spring to encourage growth.

Pests and Diseases: Limestone bedstraw is relatively disease-free and pest-resistant. However, it may be susceptible to fungal diseases if grown in poorly-drained soils. To prevent fungal diseases, ensure that the soil is well-drained and avoid overwatering.

Growing Limestone bedstraw in Containers

Limestone bedstraw can also be grown in containers, making it an excellent choice for gardeners with limited space. When growing the plant in a container, it is important to choose a container that is large enough to accommodate the plant's root system, and to use a well-draining potting mix. It is also important to provide the plant with adequate light and to water it regularly, making sure not to overwater.


Limestone bedstraw is a valuable species that provides ecological, cultural, and aesthetic benefits. Whether grown in a garden, on a slope, or in a container, this hardy and low-maintenance plant is easy to grow and requires minimal care. So why not consider adding Limestone bedstraw to your garden today?

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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