Sticky weed, otherwise known as gallium aperine, cleavers, goosegrass, hay ruff, loveman (and the list goes on….), is a popular sight in April and abundant by May. It contributes to the plethora of green around us in both urban and rural environments; it’s leaves arranged in whorls and it’s flowers tiny white stars encapsulate the magic that is this time of year.
If you are taking a walk with children these tenacious plants are a great example of plant adaption and seed dispersal. Goosegrass is a hitchhiker; its hooked hairs along the stems cleaver cling on to passers by; when in seed – its sticky burs take full advantage of a ride. When I was younger we were told that someone loved you if it got caught on your clothing when walking by!
For centuries in the dairy industry and in places to this day goosegrass has been used to sieve and catch imposters in the milk products and to assist curdling in the cheese and yoghurt making process. In fact; goosegrass has more than one use medicinally.
This weekend we had a go making the bright green, chlorophyll filled tonic that is sticky weed juice.
Not only is it a simple fun foraging activity to inspire a love of finding food in children, the plant itself has many health benefits if taken in moderation; it aids the lymphatic stem in clearing out toxins.
We made ours at home but equally both Britta and I have done this activity with our groups in the woods. With a few simple bits of equipment it’s quite nice to do these things en situ!
YOU WILL NEED
- tupperware style jug
- drinking water
- non toxic green stick with bark pealed or pestle for pounding
- apple juice optional
Step 1. Harvest your sticky weed. Choose healthy vital looking plants that are away from a dog lifting it’s leg in passing and check for guests the plant may be hosting. Check for aphids and spittlebugs . Ensure you only take a maximum of 10% or a reasonable amount from where you are foraging.
Step 2. Lightly wash or rinse sticky weed and reserve a small amount the size of a nest that will fit on your hand to serve as a sieve
Step 3. If doing this en situ, prune a fresh stick to act as a pestle and shave bark off with penknife. Choose your stick from fast growing non-toxic species such as hazel.
Step 4. Place some of your stickweed in the jug and cover with some cold water. Pound until the juice goes green!
Step 5. Using your sticky weed sieve pour your green liquid into a cup
Step 6. Repeat until everyone has some!
You may want to sweeten your cup with a little bit of apple juice. We added ice cubes and a cucumber slice garnish to finish this delightful drink off.
STICKY WEED DOES COME WITH A WARNING. SOME PEOPLE WILL HAVE A LOCALISED SKIN RASH ON CONTACT
As always, do let us know how you get on if you try this activity!