Plant of the day: climbing bedstraw

A diminutive,  climbing herb has wrapped itself through the branches of a coastal sagebrush on the bluffs of Point Reyes. Elsewhere it can be seen sprawling across the forest floor. This is climbing bedstraw (Galium porrigens), and once you start seeing it you will find it is fairly common.

There are many species of bedstraw–both native and non-native–in the Bay Area. All are distinguished by having leaves that radiate out from the stem like spokes on a wagon wheel. G. porrigens has tiny, yellowish flowers and leaves that come in whorls of four. The leaves feel sandpapery and slightly sticky to the touch; it climbs by latching on with minute, recurved hairs. Despite being so little it is a perennial, found growing in both California and Oregon.

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