Open the Advanced Search

Marsh Bedstraw

Galium palustre

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.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Rubiaceae (Bedstraw)
Life Cycle:
Annual or Perennial
Maximum Size:
1 metre tall
Bogs, ditches, fens, grassland, marshes, ponds, swamps, water, waterside, wetland.

White, 4 petals
Small, white flowers. Up to 4mm in diameter.
Small, globular fruit, slightly wrinkled.
Rough-margined leaves, in whorls of 4 to 6. Stems are without prickles. The similar-looking Fen Bedstraw (Galium oliginosum) does not have prickles on the stems. Perennial which sometimes grows in water.
Other Names:
Common Marsh Bedstraw, Marsh-bedstraw.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Galium palustre, also known as marsh bedstraw or common marsh bedstraw, is a species of flowering plant in the coffee family (Rubiaceae). It is native to wetland habitats in Europe and Asia, where it can be found growing along the edges of marshes, fens, and other wetland areas. The plant has slender stems and small, white flowers that bloom in summer. Its leaves are narrow and pointed, and it produces small, brown seeds. Marsh bedstraw is often used as a groundcover plant in gardens and landscaping, and it is also used medicinally as a diuretic and astringent. It is adapted to wet, marshy conditions and can tolerate seasonal flooding.


Marsh Bedstraw (Galium palustre) is a herbaceous plant species belonging to the Rubiaceae family. This plant is native to the temperate regions of Europe, Asia, and North America, but is now found throughout the world.

The plant grows in marshy areas, along the banks of streams and rivers, and in wet meadows. It can grow up to 60 cm tall and has green, slender stems that are covered in small, white star-shaped flowers from June to September. The leaves are small and grow in whorls of six to eight along the stem.

Marsh Bedstraw has a long history of use as a medicinal plant. The plant's leaves and stems were traditionally used to treat wounds and to help stop bleeding. In folk medicine, infusions of the plant were also used to treat a variety of ailments, including skin irritations, headaches, and digestive problems.

In addition to its medicinal uses, Marsh Bedstraw is an important plant species for wildlife. The flowers are an important source of nectar for insects, such as bees and butterflies, and the plant provides habitat and food for a variety of animals. The plant's stems and leaves are also used as nest material by some species of birds.

Despite its importance, Marsh Bedstraw is listed as a threatened species in some countries, due to the loss of wetland habitats and the increasing pressure from agriculture and urban development. Conservation efforts are needed to protect and preserve this important plant species.

Marsh Bedstraw is also a commonly used plant in traditional baskets making, especially in England where the stems were used for weaving. The stems are pliable and strong, making them ideal for basket making. The plant was also used as a natural dye, producing yellow or green hues depending on the mordant used.

In the herbal tradition, Marsh Bedstraw was believed to have calming and soothing properties, and was sometimes used as a natural sedative. It was also believed to have diuretic properties, helping to flush toxins from the body and promoting healthy kidney function.

Ecologically, Marsh Bedstraw plays a crucial role in maintaining the balance of wetland ecosystems. It helps to prevent soil erosion and provides important habitat for a variety of species. The plant is also an indicator of high-quality wetlands, and the presence of Marsh Bedstraw is a good sign of a healthy wetland ecosystem.

Despite its numerous benefits, Marsh Bedstraw is vulnerable to threats such as habitat destruction, pollution, and the introduction of invasive plant species. Conservation efforts to protect wetland habitats and to prevent the spread of invasive species are crucial for the preservation of this valuable plant species.

Furthermore, Marsh Bedstraw has potential uses in modern herbal medicine. Research has shown that the plant has antimicrobial and antioxidant properties, which makes it a promising candidate for the development of new treatments for a variety of health conditions.

In traditional medicine, Marsh Bedstraw was also used to treat skin conditions such as rashes, itching, and eczema. Its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties make it a useful plant for treating skin irritations.

In addition to its medicinal and ecological importance, Marsh Bedstraw is a valuable plant for wildlife gardening and habitat restoration projects. The plant is relatively easy to grow, making it a popular choice for restoring wetlands and for providing habitat for wildlife. It is also an attractive plant for use in wildflower meadows and for planting in damp areas in gardens.

In conclusion, Marsh Bedstraw is a multi-faceted plant with a rich history of use for medicinal, cultural, ecological, and ornamental purposes. Its preservation and protection are crucial for maintaining biodiversity, preserving cultural heritage, and ensuring the continued health of wetland ecosystems. Efforts should be made to protect this valuable plant species and to promote its use in modern herbal medicine and habitat restoration projects.


Marsh Bedstraw filmed in Capernwray, Lancashire on the 17th July 2022.


Music credits
Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

Please remember to Like and Subscribe to the WildFlowerWeb YouTube channel at

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map