Northern Bedstraw is a common species in Edmonton's river valley and ravine system. Its clusters of tiny fragrant, white flowers can be seen in mid-summer, in sunny meadows, or forming a drift of white along the forest edges.
Bloom Time: June through August
Height 20-60 cm (8-24")
Sun, semi-shade; average soil
In The Wild
Northern Bedstraw's natural habitat includes open woods, woodland edges, clearings, moist meadows and roadside ditches.
In Your Garden
Northern Bedstraw is a great plant for a semi-shaded or woodland area, although it is just as happy in full sun. It can be quite showy in a mass planting. It has a long blooming period and the white blossoms will complement the colours of your other flowers. It transplants well and doesn't mind being divided. This plant would look great in a wildflower meadow. It likes any type of soil and it grows quickly, spreading by underground runners into a large patch. But because it is a small plant with shallow roots, it's easy to dig out unwanted plants. If you don't want it spreading too far, just bury a length of 15 cm (6") wide lawn edging around it.
Growing From Seed
You can sow the seeds in either spring or fall, directly into the garden.
Collecting Seeds From Your Plants
The seeds are pairs of tiny, round nutlets attached to the flower stalks. These nutlets will be black or brown when they are ripe. Harvest the nutlets by detaching them from the flower stalk, then store them in a brown paper bag.
Northern Bedstraw belongs to the same family as coffee (the madder family) and the seeds can be roasted and ground as a coffee substitute, but you would need a phenomenal number of these tiny seeds for one cup of coffee!