Lady's bedstraw (Galium verum)

 

Collins, 196; Readers Digest, 313

This is a short sprawling perennial with dark green smallish leaves and bright yellow clusters of flowers which are in bloom from June to September.  It enjoys dry grassy banks and footpaths.  According to mythology, the Virgin Mary lay on a bed of Lady’s Bedstraw at the inn in Bethlehem because the donkeys had eaten all other available fodder.  There is also a belief that a woman lying on a bed of Lady’s Bedstraw would have a safe and comfortable childbirth.  It used to be claimed as a remedy for urinary diseases, epilepsy and gout.  The leaves and stems produce a yellow dye and the roots produce a red dye.

See also: http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/b/bedlad25.html