May 13, 2024


What are Cleavers?

If you were a bit of a rascal,  like me, at school you will remember cleavers as the sticky weed that you might have placed on some one’s back.  Some people call it the Velcro plant.  They often stick to trousers, boots and socks when walking through long grass.  As a child I knew it as sticky bud’. ‘sticky willy’  or goose grass.  I never imagined that one day I would be consuming it.

What does it look like?

They have an almost square stem with joints in it.  The leaves are covered in tiny hook and form a circle of 6 to 8 leaves around a joint.  They do not bush out but form a long stem and can be many feet long.  Cleaver form tiny white clusters of white flowers at the tip during summer.    Later, in autumn, they form seeds that look like little sticky bobbles which cling to socks and clothing.  This helps the plant spread.

Which parts are edible?

Any part above the ground is edible. They are best picked when they are young in spring.  Later in the season the small seeds can be toasted, once dried, and used to make a coffee like drink.

What do they taste like?

I think that they taste a bit like cucumber or peas.  They are quite refreshing.

Ways of using Cleavers

Cleavers can be infused in water, infused in oil, made into a tincture, or used as a decoration in cocktails.  I have a friend who adds them to green smoothies  and I have chopped them finely and added them to salsa. You can also cook them chopped up in a pie or soup, or to make a side dish boiling and then lightly frying in butter.

If making a tea infuse 2 to 4 grams of cleavers to 60 to 100ml of boiling water for about 10 minutes, and don’t use more than 3 times a day.

I make a cold drink by just putting a handful of Cleavers to infuse in my water in the fridge.  They can be juiced or mashed and added to water.  The liquid can be frozen in ice cube trays and added to a glass of water.  Again, only use them 3 times a day.

Fresh Cleavers work the best, though you can use dried Cleavers.  They wilt really quickly and so can not be picked long before they are going to be used.

If you are going to infuse them in oil to use on the skin or a massage, it is best to dry them to stop them going mouldy.  Finely chop them and half fill a jar before filling the jar with olive oil and steeping it in a dark place for 6 weeks.  Strain out the Cleavers before using.

What are the benefits of  Cleavers

Cleavers help the lymphatic system.  They help to flush out toxins and waste and are good for the immune system and kidneys.  They also help with urinary tract infections, reduce congestion and swelling and are an anticoagulant.  Apparently they are also great for eczema and skin conditions like psoriasis.  They have even been said to reduce blood pressure.  As is usual with foraged herbs, few studies have been done to evidence this but they have been used as medicine through the ages.

In the past it has been used for leg ulcers, Gonorrhea and acne( when anti-biotics were not available. In 2022 a study concluded that Cleavers helped a damaged liver expel toxins.

Are there any side effects?

Cleavers are  thought to be safe, but  when I have studied about them I have seen side effects listed. These include dizziness, a rash, itchiness, stomach pain or a cough.  I am not aware of any one that has had any adverse reactions but it is best to look out for side effects or an allergic reaction.  A reaction may occur if you are on certain medications or have an existing health condition. DO NOT CONSUME THEM IF YOU ARE PREGNANT as they can start contractions.

Can I take them if I am on medication?

These should not be taken if you are on medication for high blood pressure or are on blood thinners.  It is always best to check with your doctor if introducing a new plant into your body.

An interesting fact

In the olden days they were used to make a sieve to drain milk, or mixed with straw to make a mattress.


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  1. Julie Barton May 13, 2024 at 8:35 pm - Reply

    This is a very interesting read thank you

  2. Talis May 14, 2024 at 5:27 am - Reply

    A great read Toni will try adding to my smoothies and try a hot tea with them,I have added to soup,pasta sauce and a lovely refreshing cold drink with honey and lemon I really like. Will have it more often now I realise after you pointing out all the health benefits. ♥️

    • ToniG May 14, 2024 at 6:08 pm - Reply

      I wish more people knew that so many of the weeds that people just pull out or strim have more nutrition in them than the food that they are spending a fortune on in the supermarket. That is one of the reasons I keep writing my blog. Thanks for the feedback and for sharing how you use them

  3. KimS May 14, 2024 at 2:57 pm - Reply

    Really interesting, I am definitely going to give them a try

    • ToniG May 14, 2024 at 5:58 pm - Reply

      Good. Thanks. One of the reasons that I write the blog is to inspire people to think outside of the box with food.

  4. Rhiannon May 15, 2024 at 10:39 am - Reply

    Found a lot growing at the bottom of my garden will give the water a try.

    • ToniG May 19, 2024 at 6:46 am - Reply

      Great. Thanks for commenting

  5. Jan May 16, 2024 at 9:50 am - Reply

    I will definitely try using Cleavers infused in my water.

    • ToniG May 19, 2024 at 6:44 am - Reply

      It is so easy if you can find a good, clean source for them. Thanks for sharing

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