This week, we take a closer look at Galium album Mill.; a species from the Rubiaceae family. In German, this species is known as “Weißes Labkraut”, while the common English names is “White Bedstraw”. The species is closely related with Galium odoratum (L.) Scop. (“woodruff” in English; “Waldmeister” in German)
G. album is a perennial plant, which can reach heights between 25 and 80 centimeters. The quadrangular stalk grows from creeping to upright. In the most cases, the whole plant is bald but sometimes, some bristles along the stalk are also possible (see below)
G. album - on a meadow
It's also a Hemikryptophyte. If you remember my Article about life-forms, you know that a Hemikryptophyte is a plant, which growing buds are laying on the ground and are protected by leaves or creeping shoots.
G. album - inflorescence; (f) = Fruit; (p) = petals
The leaves are arranged in whorls with 6 to 8 leaves per node. Both sides are green and all leaves are lanceolate and narrowed to their tips. They have an average width of nearly 3 to 4 centimeters and are at least twice as long as wide (but often much longer).
G. album - habitus
The inflorescences are loose panicles with small flowers. Each flower is nearly 5 millimeters in diameter and consists of four small, green sepals and four, white petals. Flowering time is between June and September. The ripe fruits are dry and disintegrates into two sub-fruits.
G. album is native to temperate, oceanic regions of Eurasia. It prefers fresh places on a nutrient-rich soil, but tolerates also dryness. The plant grows on pastures, meadows but also on ruderal wastelands and belong roadsides. As a result, the species is part of many different plant societies on meadows.
such a meadow is an example for a typical
habitat of G. album
There is also a sub-species of this plant, which is called Gallium album ssp pycnotrichum. It's similar to G. album ssp. album, (the main species, which I've described above) but in this case, the whole plant is covered with hairs. In older literature, this sub-species is still an own species: Gallium pcynotrichum.