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Spring | Cleavers


Meet cleavers, a classic spring tonic that can be found growing in parks and gardens throughout the UK. You might know some of her other names such as goose grass, mutton chops, sticky willy or Galium aparine



Watch the cleavers video embedded at the bottom of this page - also available to watch on YouTube and Vimeo.


Cleavers is a classic spring tonic

and can be found growing in parks and gardens throughout the UK.

It can often be found throughout the winter, growing low to the ground,

but the onset of spring triggers a profusion of leggy growth

and it is this new growth, the young cleavers leaves and stems,

that are used for the spring tonic.

Being such a common plant in the UK,

cleavers has had a variety of local names

including goosegrass, mutton chops and sticky-willy,

and it is easy to identify -  its square stems are covered in tiny bristles.

These bristles tend to hook themselves onto passersby

which children through the ages have taken great delight in

as they stick them onto each other’s clothing like plant velcro!

It's leaves are arranged in a rosette around the stem

and it has tiny star-like white flowers.

These flowers in turn become grey seed balls,

covered in tiny hooked bristles which enable the seeds

to be carried far and wide by humans and animals.

Cleavers has a reputation for being a powerful blood purifier,

though nowadays we might say that it helps improve lymphatic drainage.

In this way, cleavers helps the immune system 

by relieving the toxic load on our systems.

It is also a powerful diuretic

which means that it helps take excess water out of your body via your kidneys

which means it makes you pee more!

As always, there are a variety of ways you could prepare your herbs

and cleavers is no exception

but today, we're going to show you how to prepare a cleavers succus.

'Succus' is a Latin word meaning 'juice'

In herbal medicine, a succus is a herbal juice

to which you add an equal amount of honey

it's a yummy way to preserve the medicinal qualities of fresh leaves

and is a particularly brilliant way to deliver herbs to children

as the sweetness of the mixture hides the not-so-delicious tasting herb!

To get the cleavers juice, either juice it in a juicer or

Or as shown here put the sticky stems and leaves into a blender

with a little water and blend until you have a green liquid mixture.

There will still be some solid plant bits in there

so strain this mixture through a sieve into a measuring jug.

Measure how much juice you've got

and then add an equal amount of honey (or maple syrup if you prefer).

For example, if you produce 100ml of cleavers juice,

add 100ml (or 100g) of honey.

Stir the mixture well, pour into a sterilised jar and label.

You have now made Cleavers Succus.

Because the water content of this succus is so high,

it will only last a few months and must be refrigerated.

Alternatively, you could freeze the succus in ice cube trays

to have on hand throughout the year.