Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Any of several weedy or ornamental plants of the genus Galium, having whorled leaves, clusters of small white or yellow flowers, and prickly stems. Also called cleavers.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a plant of the madder family with small pointed leaves and hairy stems with small, white or yellow flowers
  • n. straw put into a bed

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Straw put into a bed.
  • n. A genus of slender herbs, usually with square stems, whorled leaves, and small white flowers.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Straw used in stuffing a mattress or bed. [In this literal sense properly with a hyphen.]
  • n. A popular name of the different species of the genus Galium, from the old practice of using it in beds. Our Lady's or yellow bedstraw is G. verum; white bedstraw is G. Mollugo. See Galium. A name given to Desmodium Aparines.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. any of several plants of the genus Galium

Etymologies

Short for Our Lady's Bedstraw, name for a plant of the genus Galium, whose foliage was used to stuff mattresses in medieval times.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
bed +‎ straw (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • I have never seen so much lady's bedstraw, its sun-drenched scent redolent with the dreams of medieval bedrooms.

    Country diary: Wenlock Edge

  • I followed the path beside ancient overgrown hedges, heavy with elder blossom and sheltering patches of lady's bedstraw and betony, down to the banks of the river Wear where tree planting began this spring in lower-lying fields.

    Country diary: Low Burnhall, Durham

  • Gatherings of flies on the tall, white plate flowers of hogweed; burnet moths swinging on the yellow, sweetly scented lady's bedstraw; soldier beetles copulating wildly on their grass stems: these creatures were drawn to plants as places, to be inhabited by animal passions.

    Country diary: Wenlock Edge

  • Wet-kneed, we walked by pastures filled with the white froth of meadowsweet and river-bank flora of lady's bedstraw, betony, devil's bit scabious, greater burnet and eyebright, kneeling several times to store memories of the scent of the last of the fragrant orchids.

    Country diary: Forest-in-Teesdale

  • Lady's bedstraw was in high flower until very recently and I eventually found some growing near the pavement on someone's lawn.

    How to make żubrówka

  • Chief among these is woodruff, but lady's bedstraw is a more accessible plant, common in many hedgerows.

    How to make żubrówka

  • The wonderful smell of lady's bedstraw not as sickly as meadowsweet becomes stronger with drying.

    How to make żubrówka

  • A long walk – followed, after my back started complaining, by a suspicious-looking hedgerow kerb-crawl – produced nothing except hedge bedstraw, which doesn't smell of anything nice at all.

    How to make żubrówka

  • Hogweed, pale pink valerian and festoons of bedstraw line a lane and frame distant views of Hawk's Tor, up on the edge of Bodmin Moor above the Lynher river.

    Country diary: North Hill, Cornwall

  • Heavy doses of nitrogen fertiliser will tip the competitive balance in favour of grasses, and soon purple wood crane's bill, blood-red greater burnet, frothy white pignut and meadowsweet, yellow lady's bedstraw, globe flower and blue speedwells will vanish, leaving an "improved" pasture – more productive, more profitable, but oh-so dull.

    Make hay meadow photos while the sun shines | Phil Gates

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