- Family: Bedstraw Family – Rubiaceae
- Growing form: Perennial herb. At base flowerless runners along ground.
- Height: 10–30 cm (4–12 in.). Stem ascending, delicate, 4-edged, glossy, glabrous.
- Flower: Corolla wheel-shaped, white, 2–3 mm (0.08–0.12 in.) wide, fused, 4-lobed. Calyx not present. Stamens 4. Gynoecium syncarpous, with 2 styles. Inflorescence a sparsely-flowered cyme and in upper axils.
- Leaves: Whorled; lower whorls with 4 leaves, upper with 6; stalkless. Blade obovate, very narrow-based, blunt-tipped, tip with short bristle, margin entire, rough, hairy.
- Fruit: 2-parted, glabrous, sharply granular schizocarp.
- Habitat: Pasture meadows, juniper slopes.
- Flowering time: July–August.
- Endangerment: Endangered, protected in all of Finland, except the Åland Islands.
It is not so easy to find and recognize heath bedstraw, even if you know what you’re looking for, as it’s small and inconspicuous, although its tendency to form large stands makes things a little easier. Heath bedstraw is a European maritime plant which just about manages to survive in the Finnish climate, although only in a couple of places in the south of the country. The species is thought to have arrived long ago by sea or mixed in with foreign hayseed. Heath bedstraw thrives in open, sunny spots. Its habitats in Finland include old pastures which have been kept open by grazing. The tangled growth that follows the cessation of grazing is bad news for heath bedstraw’s chances. With suitable care – grazing or mowing the land – heath bedstraw can remain a unique addition to Finland’s nature.
Heath bedstraw is highly reminiscent of fen bedstraw (G. uliginosum) and the species sometimes grow in the same places. Fen bedstraw’s leaves are however narrowly elliptic, while heath bedstraw’s are bluntly obovate. Additionally, fen bedstraw’s stem is bristly and rough, while heath bedstraw’s is glabrous and glossy. Fen bedstraw also lacks the flowerless basal shoots that are typical of heath bedstraw.