Cleavers Cold Water Infusion

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I enjoyed a first today. In the spirit of foraging, I gathered a wild edible yesterday from my backyard and allowed it to steep overnight in water. This afternoon, for tea time, I sipped on a refreshing cleavers cold water infusion.

I’ve read about the medicinal herb cleavers, that many consider a weed. Oddly enough, I even dreamed once about gathering the plant. It wasn’t until I studied foraging for wild edibles last fall that I realized I pull this “weed” out of my garden every spring, by the handfuls. In fact, I’ve been familiar with cleavers since my childhood. I’ll bet you know it too!

Cleavers Cold Water Infusion

What is Cleavers?

Cleavers originated in Europe, covering much of the extended continent, from England to Siberia. Today it flourishes around the world, including Canada and much of the United States.

And when I say flourish, I mean that it grows everywhere, appearing in early spring. Look for it growing along rivers, sidewalks, fences and tree stumps or in great clumps in meadows and fields. Cleavers thrives especially well in cultivated gardens, I’ve discovered.

While it has a fancy Latin name, Galium aparine, this prolific plant is more commonly known as cleavers. That’s not what I called it though, as a child. I  called this plant “sticktights”. It’s also known by a variety of descriptive names such as grip grass, stickyweed, catchweed, velco plant, everlasting friendship and sticky willies.

The main identifying characteristic of cleavers are the fine sticky hairs that cover the plant. These sticky hairs enable the plant to cling to clothes or fur that it comes in contact with. That’s a pretty cool way to propagate! After the plant flowers it produces tiny sticky seeds as well, that create a nuisance for dogs or cats that brush against them. I used to pick these sticktights out of my pets’ fur after a romp through nearby fields.

Cleavers Cold Water Infusion

Identifying Cleavers

Cleavers is a wild edible that is easy to identify. The bright green plant puts out long straggly stems with spaced out whorls of six to eight leaves. Cleavers does flower, producing tiny white blooms. And the miniscule seeds are covered with itty bitty soft barbs. The best way to test the plant, to make sure it is cleavers, is to pluck a stem with leaves and press it against your shirt. If it sticks, it’s cleavers!

Cleavers Cold Water InfusionCleavers growing around a stump in my backyard.

Health Benefits of Cleavers Cold Water Infusion

Used medicinally for centuries, cleavers offers many health benefits to those wise enough to recognize its gifts. The plant has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and astringent properties.

Cleanses the lymphatic system

Cleavers helps to reduce water weight and edema by cleansing and stimulating the lymphatic system. This reduces swelling in glands, tissues and cysts. Cleavers is naturally diuretic making it an excellent tonic for the kidneys and urinary tract. Its cleansing and flushing effect is good for the whole body as it detoxifies and purifies the blood.

Has cooling properties

This herb reduces fevers and helps to prevent heat strokes during hot summer months. Its cooling properties calm inflammation, within the body and on the skin. Cleavers even takes the sting out of sunburns.

Heals wounds and skin irritations

Fresh cleavers leaves provide relief from cuts, wounds, rashes and bug bites. Lightly crush the leaves and apply to soothe skin redness, swelling and irritation.

Cleavers’ antiseptic properties help to treat the skin conditions eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis. Use tinctures or teas to begin treatment from within the body, while using a cleavers wash to soothe the skin.

Improves liver function

By stimulating the liver, cleavers improves digestion and the elimination of toxins from the body. It is also effective in treating ulcers, bladder inflammation and irritable bowel syndrome.

Cleavers Cold Water Infusion

Cleavers Cold Water Infusion

Creating Cleavers Cold Water Infusion

Fresh cleavers leaves are delicious added to salads or included in a steamed greens meal. The herb is available for purchase as a tincture and a dried tea.

The easiest way to enjoy the health benefits of cleavers is to gather it in your yard or another place free from herbicides and chemicals.

Cleavers tea can be served as a hot drink or as a cold water infusion. My studies suggested that the cleavers cold water infusion provided slightly more benefits that a hot tea. I loved the idea of making a something different from my typical hot herbal tea.

I gathered cleavers from my backyard. Truthfully, I almost waited too long to try this herb. I pulled up cleavers plants in early spring, clearing them from my garden. It was difficult to find the herb when I wanted it. Finally yesterday I located cleavers growing near the wood pile for the fire pit.

To create a cleavers cold water infusion, chop fresh cleavers plants and drop them into a tall mason jar. Cover with filtered water, screw on the lid, and allow water to steep in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, strain and serve.

Cleavers Cold Water InfusionCleavers cold water infusion, chilling in the fridge.

A Different Kind of Afternoon Tea

I sampled my cleavers water this afternoon, in place of hot herbal tea.

How did it taste?

I expected a slight bitterness but there wasn’t any. At least, the water did not taste bitter to me. However, I am very accustomed to herbal teas, without added honey for sweetener. The cleavers cold water infusion had a mild green taste, but not like grass. The water was refreshing and satisfying, more like cucumber infused water or one made with aromatic herbs.

Cleavers infused water gets a thumbs up from me. I have enough water left over to enjoy a cup tomorrow. And a few more plants in the backyard, that escaped my earlier weed pulling frenzies. Next spring, I’ll leave more cleavers to grow in my garden. I recognize and appreciate their incredible value now.

Cleavers Cold Water Infusion

If you are feeling adventurous, try out these other wild edible teas:


Order cleavers tincture or cleavers dried tea below:




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78 thoughts on “Cleavers Cold Water Infusion”

    1. I didn’t know the plant by that name! I’ve always considered it a nuisance Weed!

    1. Yes you can leave in cool water overnight on the countertop or cap and leave in the refrigerator 12-18 hours.

  1. oh wow I just LOVE learning all about how God gave us everything we need to live naturally and heal our bodies! Thank you so much for sharing this insightful post! Sounds sooooo refreshing!

  2. I have bad season allergies, so I wonder if I had known about many of your brewing techniques if I could have build up an immunity to pretty much anything outdoors!

    1. I had horrible seasonal allergies my whole life…until I became plant based. I eat locally produced raw honey and drink an assortment of herbal teas. And my allergies are gone.

    1. It’s so great for the lymphatic system, which helps the body function better in several ways.

  3. I have never heard of this plant before. But I LOVE learning about new natural ways to make our bodies healthy! THANK YOU!!!

    1. The cold water infusion can be used for other herbs as well. I especially like cold Infusions during the summer. Dandelions make a great cold infusion.

  4. Never knew of cleavers, let alone their amazing property. Cleavers infused water sounds like the perfect summer drink with it’s cooling abilities!

  5. I’ve not used this before but am always on the lookout for nature’s gifts to heal & support health. Thank you so much for the information!

  6. I have never heard the name cleavers before. We have these all over our property, but we call them hitchhikers. In the summer when they dry the little barbs stick to our pants, socks, shoes, and cat! They hitchhike and carry themselves around. And then when you pick them off, you get the barbs in your fingers. LOL. I have never thought of them as potentially helpful! We will have to try this as they are abundant!

    1. I was the same! They were a plant to avoid. It’s amazing that they have such powerful health benefits.

    1. You want to properly identify. I checked out foraging books from my local library. Cleavers has the distinctive characteristic of sticking to your clothes, like Velcro, if you pluck a stem with leaves and press it to your shirt. No stickiness…it’s not cleavers!

  7. I’m fascinated with the amazing healing powers found in the nature all around us. When I was young, my dad taught me about many of the edible plants in our part of the world, but this one is new to me. I will have to do a little studying on it.

  8. I recognize this plant from when I was growing up, but have not seen it since I moved across country. But I’d love to try this. Hmmmm.

    1. I hope you get to. I always considered it a weed. I love that it’s so much more.

  9. Who knew? A common “weed” for most people is actually beneficial to your health! I’ve never heard of cleavers but I will be on the lookout now!

  10. My mom used to gather cleavers too but she would use it for tea. I think my mother in law has some dried in her herb pantry. That’s right, she has a whole pantry just for herbs for natural remedies. I grew up in a community that didn’t go to doctors and any doctoring was done at home by your mom or the midwife. I love your articles about herbs.

    1. That’s amazing! I am doing the same. Learning about herbs. Realizing my grandmother’s knew so much about plants and healing. I love the idea of an herb pantry! I believe foods…and plants…are medicine.

  11. Huh, what an awesome little miracle plant! I had no idea Cleavers had so many uses (or to test for it by sticking it to your shirt)!

  12. I love the fact that it cleans the lymph system and reduces water weight, plus a multitude of other benefits! I had no idea, thanks so much for sharing! 🙂

    1. I didn’t know that’s what the plant was called either! Glad to find out it has such great healing properties.

    1. I just learned that last fall. I’ve plucked some while out in the yard and ate it. Tasted great!

  13. Well, isn’t that fascinating! I learn something new every week from you. I have never heard of cleavers before ~ so I obviously had no idea the health benefits they had.

    1. I sure didn’t know the plant as cleavers! It’s amazing that this “nuisance weed” has such benefits.

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