Galium boreale L.
northern bedstraw
Rubiaceae (Madder family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants


© Jim Riley     (Photo ID #23154)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Galium boreale
Click here to view the full interactive map and legend

Species Information

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.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


If more than one illustration is available for a species (e.g., separate illustrations were provided for two subspecies) then links to the separate images will be provided below. Note that individual subspecies or varietal illustrations are not always available.

USDA Species Characteristics

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


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)
958 5 2408
Slope Gradient (%)
16 -2 262

Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]

198 0 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
3 0 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
# 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)

Habitat and 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.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


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.