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Crosswort: the smooth bedstraw

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Crosswort: the smooth bedstraw

Crosswort (Cruciata laevipes) is a member of the bedstraw family and so each flower is formed of four small petals, each petal opposite another in the form of a cross, hence cross-wort, the herb of crosses. The Latin name Cruciata means cross shaped. Each cross shaped flower is yellow and they form in rings around the stem just above where the leaves are. There can be three or four rings of flowers around each stem. 

Crosswort is generally a short plant, less than a foot tall, and has pale green leaves and a smooth reddish stem which leads to it being called the smooth bedstraw in some places, laevipes means smooth. It flowers in spring in April and May on grassy banks and along hedgerows in laces where the soil is chalk or lime. It always seems to grow in a cluster of plants, never alone.

Surprisingly perhaps for a fairly common herb it does not seem to have gathered an accumulation of country names nor does it seem to have been adopted as a herbal remedy. In Roumania, however, it is associated with fairies!


 

 

 

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This is just my nature note: for lots more information including distribution maps, status charts, identification guidance and more photographs go to the species home page by clicking/tapping the icon