Galium tinctorium (Stiff Marsh Bedstraw)

Plant Info
Also known as: Clayton's Bedstraw, Wild Madder, Southern Three-lobed Bedstraw
Family:Rubiaceae (Madder)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:part shade, sun; swamps, wet woods, wet ditches, along shores
Bloom season:June - September
Plant height:10 to 18 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: OBL MW: OBL NCNE: OBL
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 3-petals Cluster type: panicle

[photo of flowers] Many clusters of usually 3 flowers arising from leaf axils and at the end of branching stems. Flowers are minute, about 1/16 inch across, have 3 white petals with pointed or blunt tips and stalks about ¼ inch long. Rarely a flower has 4 petals. Stamens are white; there are as many stamens as petals.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: whorl Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are whorled in groups of 4, 5 or 6, mostly 5 or 6. Leaflets are irregularly spaced and sized, ½ to 1 inch long and up to about ¼ inch wide, with a blunt or rounded tip. Leaves and stems are rough to the touch. Stems usually sprawl, becoming tangled in each other and in surrounding vegetation.

Fruit: Fruit type: capsule/pod

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a pair of tiny, smooth round pods, each containing a seed. The fruit is as large as or smaller than the flowers and ripens to black.


There are only 2 species of bedstraw with mostly 3-petaled flowers, the other being Galium trifidum (Three-petaled Bedstraw), which has leaves consistently whorled in 4s. G. obtusum (Blunt-leaf Bedstraw) also has leaves whorled in 4 to 6, but has larger flowers with 4 petals.

Native Plant Nurseries, Restoration and Landscaping Services ↓

Map of native plant resources in the upper midwest

  • ReWild Native Gardens
  • Out Back Nursery
  • Shop for native seeds and plants at!
  • Shooting Star Native Seeds - Native Prairie Grass and Wildflower Seeds
  • Morning Sky Greenery - Native Prairie Plants

More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Vadnais/Snail Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Post a comment

Note: All comments are moderated before posting to keep the riff-raff out. An email address is required, but will not be posted—it will only be used for information exchange between the 2 of us (if needed) and will never be given to a 3rd party without your express permission.

For info on subjects other than plant identification (gardening, invasive species control, edible plants, etc.), please check the links and invasive species pages for additional resources.


Note: Comments or information about plants outside of Minnesota and neighboring states may not be posted because Id like to keep the focus of this web site centered on Minnesota. Thanks for your understanding.