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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

28 September, 2016

Crosswort: the smooth bedstraw

Crosswort (Cruciata laevipes) is a member of the bedstraw family and so each flower is formed of four small petals, each petal opposite another in the form of a cross, hence cross-wort, the herb of crosses. The Latin name Cruciata means cross shaped. Each cross shaped flower is yellow and they form in rings around the stem just above where the leaves are. There can be three or four rings of flowers around each stem. 
Crosswort is generally a short plant, less than a foot tall, and has pale green leaves and a smooth reddish stem which leads to it being called the smooth bedstraw in some places, laevipes means smooth. It flowers in spring in April and May on grassy banks and along hedgerows in laces where the soil is chalk or lime. It always seems to grow in a cluster of plants, never alone.
Surprisingly perhaps for a fairly common herb it does not seem to have gathered an accumulation of country names nor does it seem to have been adopted as a herbal remedy. In Roumania, however, it is associated with fairies!
Crosswort: the smooth bedstraw