A short to medium and often sprawling grassland perennial. In common with other bedstraws Lady’s bedstraw has a square stem with whorls of undivided leaves and clusters of small four petalled flowers. Lady’s bedstraw is Britain’s only yellow flowered bedstraw (although it can be confused with Crosswort), its golden yellow flowers being present from June until September. The plant, when dried, retains the scent of new mown hay hence its common name which dates back to a time when palliasses were stuffed with straw.
Found on a range of habitats on relatively infertile neutral to calcareous soils including meadows, pastures, waste land and dunes. Its unusually deep root system helps it to become particularly common on sandy soils. Lady’s bedstraw spreads by means of stolons and can form extensive mats of ascending shoots in neglected grassland. However this is a transitory phase and if cutting or grazing is not reintroduced the plant is eventually suppressed by taller and more robust species.
Grows readily from seed sown at any time of the year.