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Great Marsh Bedstraw

Galium palustre elongatum

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Rubiaceae (Bedstraw)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres tall
Ditches, fens, grassland, marshes, ponds, waterside, wetland.

White, 4 petals
The flowers are small and white, appearing together in clusters. The flowers are larger than those of Marsh Bedstraw (Galium palustre).
The fruit is a wrinkled nutlet.
The leaves are configured in whorls of 4 to 6. They have rough margins. The stems are without prickles. This is a perennial species, sometimes growing in water. It can be found throughout all parts of the British Isles.
Other Names:
Marsh Bedstraw, Tall Bedstraw.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Galium palustre elongatum is a subspecies of Galium palustre, also known as marsh bedstraw or common marsh bedstraw. It is a species of flowering plant in the coffee family (Rubiaceae) that 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. Like other subspecies of G. palustre, it 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.


Great Marsh Bedstraw, Galium palustre elongatum, is a herbaceous perennial plant species that is native to Europe, Asia and Northern Africa. It is commonly found in wet habitats, such as marshes, fens, and wet meadows, hence its name "palustre" meaning marshy.

The plant grows up to 30 cm in height, producing delicate white flowers that bloom in June and July. Its leaves are small and needle-like, arranged in whorls around the stem. The leaves are also used for medicinal purposes and have a calming effect when made into a tea.

Great Marsh Bedstraw is also known for its ecological importance. Its root system helps to prevent soil erosion, making it a valuable species for conserving wetlands. Additionally, the plant provides habitat and food for a variety of insects, including bees, butterflies, and moths.

It is important to note that this species is considered a rare plant, and it is listed as endangered in several countries, including the United Kingdom. The main threats to its survival are the destruction of wetland habitats and the intensification of agriculture.

To help conserve Great Marsh Bedstraw and its habitats, it is recommended that individuals support conservation efforts and avoid activities that may harm wetlands, such as overgrazing and the use of pesticides. In addition, those who are interested in growing Great Marsh Bedstraw in their own gardens can do so by planting it in moist, well-draining soil in full sun to partial shade.

Another important aspect of Great Marsh Bedstraw is its traditional use in various cultures. The plant has a long history of medicinal use, dating back to ancient times. In traditional European medicine, the leaves and stems of the plant were used to treat a variety of ailments, including skin irritation, headaches, and digestive problems.

In addition to its medicinal uses, Great Marsh Bedstraw was also used as a strewing herb in medieval times. Strewing herbs were placed on the floor of homes and other buildings to provide a pleasant aroma and deter insects. The leaves of the plant emit a sweet, hay-like scent when dried, making it a popular choice for this purpose.

It is also interesting to note that Great Marsh Bedstraw was once used as a natural yellow dye for wool. The plant contains a yellow pigment that can be extracted and used to dye wool and other natural fibers. This traditional use has largely been replaced by synthetic dyes, but it is still worth mentioning as a unique aspect of the plant's history and cultural significance.

To sum up, Great Marsh Bedstraw is not only a valuable species in terms of its ecological importance, but also has a rich cultural history and a range of uses. It is a plant worth conserving and preserving for future generations to appreciate and benefit from.

Another interesting fact about Great Marsh Bedstraw is its relationship with other species. The plant is known to form associations with a variety of mycorrhizal fungi, which are essential for its growth and survival. These fungal partners help the plant to obtain nutrients and water from the soil, as well as providing some protection against diseases and pests.

The plant is also a food source for several species of wildlife. Its leaves and stems are eaten by a variety of mammals, including deer, rabbits, and hares. Additionally, the seeds are a valuable food source for birds, especially during the winter months when other food sources are scarce.

Furthermore, Great Marsh Bedstraw is known to have allelopathic effects, meaning it has the ability to release chemicals into the soil that can affect the growth of other nearby plants. This can be both positive and negative, as it can help to control the spread of invasive species, but may also have negative effects on other native plants.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that Great Marsh Bedstraw is a useful plant for landscaping and ornamental purposes. Its delicate white flowers and attractive foliage make it a popular choice for gardens, particularly in areas with moist or wet soils. It is also a valuable addition to wildflower meadows, where it contributes to the overall biodiversity and beauty of the area.

In conclusion, Great Marsh Bedstraw is a complex and fascinating species that has a range of ecological, cultural, and ornamental value. It is important to conserve and protect this species, not only for its own sake but also for the benefits it provides to other species and the wider environment.