by Stephen Mifsud
   10 Dec 2023      ()
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Galium spurium   (False Cleavers)

Galium spurium  (RUBIACEAE.) 
Images for this profile are taken from the Maltese Islands after year 2000.

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Profile Date Dec-2007 (taxon update: none)
Citation for this page Mifsud, S. (2022). Galium spurium - datasheet created on Dec-2007. Retrieved from on 10-Dec-2023

Nomenclature and Basic Information

Species name :

Galium spuriumL.
Published in Sp. Pl. 106 (1753)

Synonyms :
(basionym or principal syn.)

Galium pauciflorum Bunge
Full list of synonyms : [Euro+Med] [PlantList] [IPNI] [POWO] [Catalogue of Life] []

Plant Family :

Rubiaceae Juss. (The Bedstraw Family)
14 species from the Rubiaceae family are recorded from the Maltese Islands.

English name(s) :

False Cleavers

Maltese name(s) :


Status for Malta :

Doubtful origin. It is not yet established if this species is native or not.

Frequency :

Very Common     Common    Frequent     Scarce     Rare    Very rare    Extinct

Growth form :

Raunkiaer lifeform [info]: THEROPHYTE ( annual plants, herbaceous )
Germination [info]: Dicotyledon

Legal Protection :

Not legally protected till the last update of this website (2/Mar/2022)

Red List (1989) :

Not listed in the Red Data Book of the Maltese Islands

Flowering Time :

March – May

Colour of Flowers:

White or Inconspicuous


Not particularly toxic

Name Derivation :

spurium: False or not being what it purports to be (hence spurious), previously used for the synonym plant name Antirrhinum spurium because the author reckoned that despite it was described as an Antirrhinum, it is likely in the wrong genus. Indeed later it was placed in its own genus - Kickxia. (Latin origin )

Planting in rural areas :

Can be planted in rural areas according to ERA Guidelines

Description, Habitat and Distribution
Habitat in Europe: Hedges, scrub, sand-dunes, cultivated and waste ground.
Preferred habitat in Malta: Data will be available in the next update of this website.
Botanical Description: Stems 10-100(-160) cm, scrambling, weak to rather stout, retrorsely aculeolate, usually hairy at the nodes. Leaves (5-)30-35 x 2.5-4 mm, in whorls of 6-10, narrowly oblanceolate, gradually narrowed into the long-awned apex, more or less hairy and setose above, the somewhat revolute margin and midrib retrorsely aculeolate. Inflorescence narrowly ovoid to cylindrical (rarely reduced); partial inflorescences 1- to 7-flowered, longer than the leaves; peduncles and pedicels patent, straight but often sharply bent just under the fruit. Corolla 0.8-1.3 mm in diameter, greenish-yellow, glabrous; lobes acute. Fruit 2-3 mm, densely setose or glabrous.
Chromosome number: 2n=20
Distributional range: Most of Europe, but rather rare in the west and only naturalized or casual in parts of the north.

Distributional map in Europe
and the Mediterranean region (2018):
Occurrences in Europe.
(from Flora Europaea pre year 1993):
Albania, Austria and Liechtenstein, Belgium, Bulgaria, Corse, Crete, Czeck Republic and Slovakia, Denmark, Finland, France (incl. Monaco and Channel Islands but excluding Corse), Germany, Greece, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Spain (incl. Andorra but excl. the Balaerics), Hungary, Italy (excl. Sicily and Sardignia), ex-Jugoslavia, Portugal, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia and former USSR, N B C W K E Sardinia, Sicily and/or Malta, Sweden, Introduced in  Britain (excl. Northern Ireland and Channel islands)
Occurrences in Europe and the Mediterranean region.
(from Euro+Med Checklist, 2019)
  Country codes  
AE(G) Ag Al Ar Au(A) Be Bl(M) Bu By dCa(C H L T) Co Cr Cs Ct Eg Es Ga(F) dGe Gg Gr He Ho Hs(S) Hu Ir It La Li Lt Lu Ma Mo Rf(C E K N NW S) Rm Sa Si(M S) Sl Sn Su Tn Tu(A) Uk(K) [Fe No Po]

Links & Further literature (0 papers)

Google Web

Google Images

Google Scholar

Research Gate




Med Checklist

Cat. of Life



World Flora Online

Plants of the World Online

Vienna Virt. Herb.

RBGE Herbarium

KEW Herbarium




Kindly Email if there are papers and publications about local studies or information about this species to be included in the list above.

Species Images (5 images)
   Galium spurium   -   Image Code: GLMSP-0.
   Galium spurium   -   Image Code: GLMSP-1.
   Galium spurium   -   Image Code: GLMSP-2.
   Galium spurium   -   Image Code: GLMSP-3.
   Galium spurium   -   Image Code: GLMSP-4.

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