Goose Grass, Sticky Willy

Gallium aparine

sticky-willy

Often remembered from childhood, goose grass or sticky willy has clinging hairs on its leaves, stem and seeds which stick to your clothes. It’s an annual and easy removed but also easily spreads with its self sown seedlings. Can grow up to 4ft high. Sticky Willy can grow rapidly during warm weather. The sticky stems are able to scramble around the garden, smothering small, cultivated plants and setting masses of seed. It’s usually introduced on the coats of animals, birds’ feathers or human clothing. Its lifecycle is approximately eight weeks from germination to setting seed.

Leaves

The leaves and stem are covered with hooked hairs that latch onto anything that brushes against them.

sticky-willy-leaves

Flowers

2 to 5 stalked flowers appear at the end of a stem. Individual flowers have 4 pointed white petals with a greenish center, and are about 1/16 inch across.

sticky-willy-flowers

Preferred Habitat

Sticky Willy is a common garden weed and likes shade. Keep a close eye out for it as it will creep around your plants, spreading as it goes.

Weed Control

Remove Sticky Willy regularly by hand, or hoe off young seedlings before they set seed. Avoid getting seeds on clothing, as this can inadvertently spread it around the garden. Mulch borders with a 5cm layer of garden compost or composted bark to suppress seedlings.

Not Just a Weed

The leaves and stems of the plant can be cooked as a leaf vegetable if gathered before the fruits appear.

Sticky Willy is a reliable herb and is used to clean urinary stones and to treat urinary infections.

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At Vialii, we are strong proponents of organic gardening and try to avoid weedkiller if we can. To many people, weeds are wonderful things, whether they are grown as pretty wildflowers or for their health benefits. But we understand they can be frustrating in gardens so our Weedipedia pages detail our most common weeds, how to identify & get rid of them but also their benefits too. If you need help getting rid of your own weeds please get in touch. 


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