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Cleavers, Galium aparine
Often called biddy bids in NZ, or more amusingly stick bob, sticky willy, sticky jack etc.
Yip those sticky things that get stuck in your cat's fur, or that you throw at your little friend and they don't realise they are walking around with a back covered in weeds (because the plant is sticky like velcro). OK maybe only 5 year olds still do this....Cleavers are much more than an annoying weed, but a highly nutritious & medicinal plant ally.
Cleavers are most well known for their diuretic, anti-inflammatory and cleansing properties, particularly their ability to cleanse the lymph nodes and to cleanse the blood. Cleaver tea is often used by herbalists as a remedy for swollen glands, tonsillitis, or any other sickness that would benefit from lymphatic drainage support like respiratory infections. It's useful for treating urinary or bladder infections given it's diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties. Topically cleavers are used as a poultice for skin ailments such as wounds, burns, eczema & psoriasis.
My favorite way to include cleavers in my diet is to simply stuff a whole lot of fresh stems into a jug of water and leave on the bench overnight. The next day I drink as is (or if you're scared of floaties you can strain out the plants first). This makes a really cooling drink with a pleasant cucumber/banana like flavor with all the added nutritional & medicinal benefits of cleavers.
You can also add Cleavers to your salads & cooking. I recommend only using young, fresh cleavers (not old stringy ones with the seed heads on). Cut up very fine or you will have a stringy mouth. I add them to pesto's, soups, stir frys, and sometimes just the tips in salads (be warned they can be scratchy on your mouth!).
Apparently the seeds make a good coffee substitute (another one!!) and the plant is in fact related to the coffee plant! Again I've never tried this, I'd love to hear if you have?? Cleaver coffee anyone?
Native American's would use Cleavers in a love charm, women would bathe in an infusion of Cleavers to ensure success in love. Could be worth a try!

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