E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Galium boreale L.
northern bedstraw
Rubiaceae (Madder family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jim Riley  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #23154)

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Distribution of Galium boreale
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Species Information

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Perennial herb from a creeping rhizome; stems erect or ascending, many, simple or few-branched, short-bearded below the nodes, angled, smooth, 20-80 cm tall.
Basal leaves soon deciduous; stem leaves in whorls of 4, lanceolate to linear with rounded tips, 1.5-4.5 cm long, smooth or roughened below on the veins, 3-veined, often bearing axillary branches with smaller leaves, unstalked.
Inflorescence of numerous, stalked, terminal flowers on branchlets in the upper axils, the flowers both male and female on separate plants; corollas creamy-white, saucer-shaped, 3.5-7 mm wide, 4-lobed; calyces obsolete.
Nutlets, 2, 1.8-2.0 mm long, with numerous, short, straight or curled hairs or rarely smooth.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Late Spring
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Brown
Present over the Summer
Source:  The USDA

Habitat / Range

Moist to dry meadows, grasslands, shrublands, rocky slopes, open forests and shorelines from the lowland to upper subalpine zones; common throughout BC except absent on the Queen Charlotte Islands and the north coast; circumpolar, N to AK, YT and NT, E to PQ, NS and NB and S to DE, OH, MO, TX and CA; Eurasia.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Galium boreale

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 5 958 2408
Slope Gradient (%) -2 16 262
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 198 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 3 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: AT(16), BAFA(6), BG(86), BWBS(719), CDF(1), CWH(29), ESSF(267), ICH(213), IDF(925), IMA(1), MH(1), MS(294), PP(75), SBPS(310), SBS(1337), SWB(94)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is not evaluated, unknown or variable.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Galium boreale subsp. septentrionale (Roemer & J.A. Schultes) Hara
Galium boreale var. hyssopifolium (Hoffm.) DC.
Galium boreale var. intermedium DC.
Galium boreale var. linearifolium Rydb.
Galium boreale var. scabrum DC.
Galium boreale var. typicum G. Beck
Galium hyssopifolium Hoffm.
Galium septentrionale Roem. & Schult.
Galium strictum Torr.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References