The lanceolate leaves of galium boreale
occur in whorls of four at quite widely-spaced intervals along the slender, four-sided stem, and have three distinct lengthwise veins. The small white flowers are formed of four petals (no sepals), and are about a quarter of an inch in diameter. The center contains four stamens and a pistil topped by two styles.
Flowers grow abundantly at the end of short, branched stalks from the tip of the main stem and from the upper leaf axils. The plant is edible. Unlike some other members of this genus which are quite small and have weak stems, northern bedstraw remains upright, attaining heights of between 2 and 3 feet.