Herbs or prickly erect or scandent weak shrubs; stem sometimes terete, sometimes retrorsely aculeolate. Leaves usually 4 or more in a whorl, rarely opposite, stipulate. Inflorescence of axillary or terminal cymes, ultimate branches of the inflorescence often without bracts, bracteoles always absent. Flowers usually bisexual, (3-) 4-memos, minute, pedicel always longer than the ovary and fruit. Calyx-tube ovoid or globose, limb lacking. Corolla rotate, usually cup-shaped, rarely infundibuliform. Stamens 4, rarely 3, included, filaments short, anthers didymous. Ovary 2-loculed, ovoid; styles 2, short; stigmas capitate. Fruit small, ovoid, dry, rarely somewhat fleshy, pubescent or hispid with hooked hairs, sometimes glabrous.
The generic name Galium is derived from Greek word gala which means milk- because Galium verum was formerly used to curdle milk in cheese making. It is a very difficult genus with little character differences; specific delimitaiton particularly at the margin of distributional ranges are not often clear-cut and the characters are intergrading.