Information on Wild Madder

Common Name: Wild Madder
Scientific Name: Rubia peregrina
Irish Name: Garbhlus na Boirne
Family Group: Rubiaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period


Click for list of all flowering by month
Wild Madder is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.


Wild Madder is quite an intriguing little plant, bearing evergreen leaves, initally copper-maroon colour but turning dark glossy green in summer. A perennial, it scrambles robustly on hairless, square stems across the Aran Islands’ and the Burren’s limestone pavements as well as other western and southern coastal regions. The handsome, lanceolate, leathery leaves are fringed with curved prickles and are in whorls of four to six. Small five-lobed, yellow-green flowers are borne in leafy panicles from June to August and following these, berries which ripen to a black hue. This plant can reach a height of one metre, creeping robustly in scrub and open woodland as well as on rocky ground. It is a native plant and it belongs to the Rubiaceae family.

I first identified and photographed this plant growing near Mullaghmore, Co Clare in May 2010 when it was a lovely rich coppery colour. Subsequently I found it – and again photographed it - bearing its green leaves in August in the same place

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre

Madder, Wild
Madder, Wild

Belonging to the same family as our widespread Cleavers, this plant is also one which sticks to clothing and hair, due to its prickly leaves and stems.