Field Madder

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Common Names:  Field Madder, Madder Weed,  Herb Sherard, Madderlen, Spurwort


Latin Name:  Sheradia arvensis


Habit:  Field madder is a small prostrate warm season annual often plentiful on cultivated land especially on sandy, loamy and calcareous soils.  It also invades turfgrass.  It has whorled leaves, square stems and pink to purple flowers.  There is evidence that field madder was a weed of crops in the Bronze Age.  Field madder flowers from May to October.    Seedlings emerge from April to October with the main peak of emergence in June and a smaller one in September.

Control:  Field madder may be controlled by surface cultivation from early spring onwards.  It is important to prevent seeding by hoeing off the weeds in crops that permit this.  It can also be killed with vinegar based spray.


Notes:  Field madder is often mistaken for either smooth bedstraw (Galium mollugo) or catchweed bedstraw (Galium aparine).  However, the leaves of the bedstraws are generally larger and occur in whorls of 6 to 8 unlike field madder.   Additionally, the leaves of field madder are more lanceolate and have much more of a distinct point than those of the bedstraw species.

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