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We've been getting this weed growing on our property in recent years. It's one of the first weeds to sprout in the late winter or early spring (nothing else seems to sprout at that time but Creeping Charlie, some small unidentified weed, and this). It doesn't seem to mind shade. Someone I know claims that they're edible and delicious (but I want to verify what they are before I eat any of them, and I don't know if this person is right; I mention this in case it helps in a diagnosis). A flower can be seen in the third picture (there are other flowers, but they're kind of small to see in the other pictures). It seems to be an annual in my zone (I'm in southwestern Idaho). It's pretty easy to pull up. Usually, they haven't been this big, but I saw this nice healthy patch of them and decided to ask the question.

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The last picture is of a single plant with its roots. That's about as big as they generally get in our garden. I don't recall if the summer heat kills them off, but they're more prevalent long before the last frost.

Upon questioning the person who claimed they were edible, the person thought they were cleavers (and tasted them and proclaimed that they tasted like cleavers, too). I don't think they look like the cleavers I see online, though.

EDIT: Here's a picture of the plants after they've matured more and gone to seed. Apparently, they turn into vine-like things with burr-like things on the nodes (which might be the fruit).

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It seems like early in the spring, it grows vegatatively, but later, even the plants that aren't terribly old go to seed and vine around.

  • It looks a lot like comfrey, have you been digging, or tilling in the area? if it is, and you want to get rid of it, I'll take it minus the dirt for the cost of shipping. – black thumb Apr 11 at 22:46
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    We've got comfrey, too, and I'm very familiar with it. The leaves on these are only about two inches long. It doesn't have tubers. These grow from seed in the spring (you can see the cotyledons). They're easy to pull up, and they don't seem to grow back from the roots. The flowers are much smaller than comfrey flowers. The flowers don't come in clusters. They branch from the ground up; a lot more than comfrey (but because there are so many plants together here, you can't see that as well). This is probably about thirty to ninety plants. These sprout long before the comfrey grows back in spring – Shule Apr 12 at 2:53
  • I haven't been digging. They start growing probably in February some time (maybe before). I'll add another picture (of a single plant). – Shule Apr 12 at 3:41
  • @blackthumb Well, it looks like if my answer is right, then it's in the same family as comfrey. :) – Shule May 19 at 2:22
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Okay, so I was looking at a weed image index and began doing web searches on the weed names I found there. I figured Idaho has too many wetland areas and aquatic weeds (so, I'd look at Utah's weeds and maybe find it faster by some miracle). So, I searched for some kind of madwort and miraculously came across pictures of Asperugo procumbens, which looks like my weed (although that wasn't the madwort in the weed index)! It's got the prickly things on the nodes. It has very small flowers. The size is about right. It looks pretty much the same. It's the only plant in its genus (according to Wikipedia), and is in the Borage family. So, unless there's a pretty unrelated plant that looks like this out there (or unless Wikipedia is wrong and there are multiple species in the genus), then I'm thinking this is it.

It's said to come from Europe, but to have been introduced to the northern half of North America (also according to Wikipedia).

It's known as Madwort, German Madwort, and Catchweed, but there are other plants with those names (so search for the species or genus). I don't know if it's edible.

Although I've read that this plant is a late spring weed, it begins growing in the early spring in my area, interestingly.

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