Cleavers and Marigold are discussed together on this page as they are often combined in commercial products. Calendula (pot marigold) is discussed elsewhere.

Cleavers (Clivers) Plant – Galium aparine

The cleavers plant, sometimes written as Clivers, grows abundantly on hedge banks, waste ground, cornfields and shingle. Cleavers is found throughout the cold temperate regions of Northern Europe and Northern America.

Syn. Clivers, Goosegrass
Family: Rubiaceae. Species: Stellate

The Anglo Saxon called Cleavers, ‘hedgerife’, meaning a tax gatherer or robber due to the fine bristles catching onto clothes, as you pass by. This sticky annual has straggling soft growth up to 2ft tall, covered in fine bristles to catch onto passers by. The leaves are lanceolate about ½ inch long and ¼ inch broad, arranged in whorls of six or eight together. The flowers in small stalked clusters of two or three spring from the axils of the leaves, they are small star-like, white or greenish white in colour. The little grey brown, globular seeds are covered in hooked bristles, mixed in with the harvested wheat they spread to pastures new.

Feeding Cleavers to Your Horse

Do your horse a favour plant Cleavers along the hedge line. Horses instinctively seek this herb out, eagerly devouring the young shoots. To establish Cleavers in a new or established hedgerow, harvest the wild seeds in September and plant along the hedge line for early spring growth. Cleavers once established will be there forever!

Cleavers can be harvested from the onset of flowering in May through to September. Medicinally only the aerial parts (everything above ground), not the roots are used. In Europe, Cleavers is wild harvested for medicinal purposes. Cleavers is an excellent lymphatic tonic and detoxifier, diuretic, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory and mild astringent. Cleavers is rich in minerals especially calcium, sodium, iodine, and copper. Think of Clivers as green iodine for all lymphatic swelling, lymphangitis, suppressed urine, or as part of a Detox formula.

Clivers make an excellent tonic for all lymphatic problems especially following viral infections such as strangles. Combine with other lymphatic and detoxifying herbs as a lymph cleanser.

Juice: Liquidize or pulp the fresh plant into juice. Give 30 mls of juice per 100kgs, 150mls per 500kgs. Twice daily over feed or dilute with an equal amount of (previously boiled) cooled water and syringe down throat.

Dried: Use dried Cleavers 5 to 10 grams per 75 kilos body weight. Not as strong as the fresh juice or tincture, but can be used to good effect for urinary problems.

Cleavers is a potent duiretic and should not be used for horses suffering from insulin resistance or laminitis due to excessive sugars in the blood, as this will cause a higher concentration of sugar in the blood and worsen the condition. Because Cleavers is a potent diuretic exceeding the recommended dose could cause dehydration. Yes, your horse can have too much Cleavers.

Turkeys and other free range fowls have been known to gorge on Cleaver seeds with fatal results!

Supplements containing Cleavers and Marigold

For those busy horse owners without access, or time to gather fresh Cleavers. There are horse supplements containing Cleavers available. These are often combined with Marigold, which are regarded as complementary herbs.

Together, Cleavers and Marigold provide nutritional support for the lymph system that is often over loaded with an excess of fluid, making the legs appear puffy and unsightly. This can be used for horses who are on box rest.