What Does Goosegrass Look Like?

Most homeowners are always looking for new methods to keep your lawn and garden looking their best. And if you’ve ever seen a strange weed that you couldn’t identify, you might have wondered what it was and how it got there.

It’s critical that you are able to recognize any weeds that may begin to grow so you can remove them before they become an issue.

Well, you should worry no more! In this article, we’ll take a closer look at goosegrass – what it looks like, where it grows, how to get rid of Goosegrass, etc. We’ll help you to learn everything you need to know about this pesky weed!

So, what does Goosegrass look like? Keep reading and find out!

What is Goosegrass?

Goosegrass is a weed with jagged leaves that resembles grass. It forms large clumps and spreads quickly underground, making removal difficult if you don’t take action right away. It is a favorite food for geese, which is how it has earned the Goosegrass moniker.

Galium aparine, commonly known as Cleavers and Sticky Willy, and Eleusine indica, sometimes called Indian Goosegrass and yard-grass, are the two most prevalent types of Goosegrass. While the former is more common in the United States, and is therefore what we’ll be discussing today, both have been recorded all over the world.

Where Does Goosegrass Grow?

Goosegrass prefers disturbed soil and may thrive in a variety of environments. This means that areas where the soil is constantly disturbed and turned over, such as gardens and lawns, can cause these weeds to thrive.

Goosegrass also develops in areas with loose dirt that is frequently watered, so be careful to keep it out of your yard or garden. Because goosegrass can thrive in both wet soils as well as poorly drained locations, maintaining and aerating your lawn, and keeping it well-drained, are both critical.

Goosegrass is most common along roadways and around property perimeters, as well as in waste areas and limestone scree. It flourishes in rich soils that have high nitrogen and phosphorus levels, and prefers soils with a pH of 5.5 to 8.0.

How to Identify Goosegrass

There are hundreds of weeds growing all around the U.S. and the world, and it can be difficult sometimes to tell them all apart, but here are some things to look out for so you can more easily identify Goosegrass.

Visual Characteristics 

Beds of goosegrass, or cleavers, emerge from the soil with straggling stems that creep along the ground or up neighboring plants. These stems can reach a length of more than three feet and are boxy in appearance and square in form.

The leaves of goosegrass are green with a jagged edge, and they grow outwards. There are three parts to each leaf, which curls in somewhat around the stem. Each plant has two lobes on the end of each leaf, almost as if they were tiny wings. Many runners sprout from each plant.

The flowers are white or green in color, tiny, and star-shaped, and they each typically have four petals. The flowers and generally clustered into pairs or groups of threes. Goosegrass has burrs that are globular fruits that produce one to three seeds closely clustered together; they have hooked hairs that cling to animal fur, which assists with seed dispersion.

Growth Stages

The flowers of the Goosegrass weed emerge between spring and summer.

Other than that, goosegrass does not have any unique visual traits that are only apparent during a single growth stage, and it looks fairly uniform throughout its lifespan.

Other Unique Traits

Goosegrass as a plant similar to Stinging Nettle and Bedstraw, in that it has an oil on the leaves that interacts with skin. Some people might develop contact dermatitis, which is a rash caused by localized inflammation of the skin, when they come into contact with Goosegrass.

Goosegrass is also edible. You can pick the plant’s leaves and stems before the fruit start to form, and prepare them as a leafy vegetable. If eaten raw, however, the numerous tiny hooks that cover the plant and give it its clinging quality might make it unpalatable.

Plants That Look Like Goosegrass

Other weeds in the same Gallium family, for example Woodruff (Galium odoratum), and Wall Bedstraw (Galium parisiense), have leaves that have similar-looking patterns to Goosegrass when they’re all young. Once they reach full maturity, however, they become easier to tell apart.

How to Get Rid of Goosegrass

There are a number of methods to get rid of goosegrass if you detect it in your lawn or garden. Weed killer, for example, is quite simple to use and is effective at killing goosegrass. You simply buy the right type of weed killer according to which goosegrass you have in your yard, and apply it to the weeds.

Using a pre-emergent herbicide before the Goosegrass has sprouted with prevent it from developing. If the weed has already emerged, you will need to use a post-emergent herbicide. Both of these can be found at your local home and garden store or online.

Another effective method of goosegrass removal is simply pulling it out by hand. You can also use vinegar, saltwater in a spray bottle, or corn gluten meal, and these all be effective at getting rid of this pesky weed once and for all.

In Conclusion

Knowing what Goosegrass looks like is the best way to avoid it, as it is with any weed. If you can identify this pesky weed early on in your yard, you can take steps to get rid of it before it becomes a problem.

The goal of this article was to educate you on Goosegrass and its growth and flowering pattern, as well as to compare it with other weed species, and we hope we’ve done that. There are certain characteristics that may assist you in recognizing this weed if you come across it in your garden or backyard.

If you’re not sure whether a plant in your lawn is goosegrass, don’t hesitate to contact us. We want to make sure this weed does not spread in your neighborhood and community or cause any issues to your backyard. Thank you for taking the time to read through, and happy gardening!