Bedstraws are not the most showy of plants. In fact, they are pretty nondescript members of the botanical world, easily overlooked and not straightforward to identify. I was made aware of a couple of rare bedstraws close by to me here in Surrey, so with a morning to spare I went to take a look.
First up was Slender Bedstraw (Gallium pumilum) on Colley Hill. This species is becoming very rare indeed, but a few hundred plants are currently on show. I was able to find some Hedge Bedstraw nearby to get my eye in, with the pumilum being much slenderer, longer and narrower leaved (above), with some of the leaves exhibiting the characteristic backward-curved prickles, a hand-lens being essential to see them. The flowers were difficult to photograph in the breeze (below). I also fancy I saw some long-leaved Hedge Bedstraw (ssp erectum?)
It wasn't all small-white-jobs, with the Meadow Clary, caged and at its only Surrey station, in fine flower, plus a single healthy looking Ground-pine.
Being on a 'bedstraw-roll' I went and visited a small piece of open ground in Merstham where Wall Bedstraw (Gallium parisiense) is known. This species is even slighter than the Slender, with tiny flowers and forward-prickled leaves. The thin stem is also rough to touch. It is a difficult plant to photograph but hopefully the picture below conveys some of its character.