Botany of (Common) Chickweed, Stellaria media

PLANT FAMILY

Common Chickweed is a wild plant that is native to Europe. It belongs in the Carnation family or Caryophyllaceae Family.

DESCRIPTION

From a distance chickweed looks like nice fluffy patch of green. The flowers and leaves are so small that it’s hard to see unless you get up close and personal. Once you get that close, you’ll see awesome white flowers amongst lots of green oval leaves. Chickweed is an annual. It propagates quickly by seeds and grows thought the whole year.

LOCATION

Chickweed is found where the soil is moist and receives full to partial sun light. I’ve noticed that it grows much nicer in partial sunlight. It can be found in lawns, meadows, and pastures. It likes cultivated land and the edge of fields. It can tolerate temperature as low as -10 degrees Celsius or 14 degrees Fahrenheit. So, you can find chickweed between Feb-Dec. Now that’s pretty cool.

Chickweed is found throughout all of North America. As a matter of fact, it is found on every continent including Antarctica!

STEM

Chickweed grows on long durable stems that can get up to 2 ½ feet long. The stems grow outward, not upward, so it creeps along the ground resulting in many of the stems getting all tangled up. 

LEAVES

The leaves are oval shaped or elongated and grow opposite one another. Measurements are about 1/4 inch to 1 and a half inches in length.

FLOWERS, REPRODUCTION, SEEDS

The flowers are teeny tiny, white, and star shaped, with a diameter of about ¼ inch. There are 5 petals but, it acts like a trickster and tries to convince you there are 10. The fact is each petal has a very deep cleft in it making it look like 2 petals when it is actually just one.

The ovary is positioned superior, meaning it protrudes out a bit. There are 5-10 stamens that can be yellow white or yellow. And 2-5 styles come off the top of the ovary.

Chickweed reproduces by the seeds. Each plant can produce about 15,000 seeds just 5-7 weeks after germination. The seeds look like tiny white brown balls. You can see a picture of the seeds in “Weeds of North America” by Richard Dickinson and France Royer.

ROOTS

The roots are fibrous meaning they are fine, slender and thread-like.

MORE INFO

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If you want to know more about the botany of chickweed, check out “Weeds of North America”, by Richard Dickinson and France Royer; or “Botany In a Day”, by Thomas Elpel.

There you have it, the botany of chickweed. Follow Wild Alex Herbs for more things to come! For now, take out your magnifying glass and go search and find this awesome weeds.

OTHER JOURNAL ENTRIES YOU MIGHT FIND USEFUL

Check out my Journal entry on respectful wildcrafting techniques to learn how to properly harvest herbs.

Written: April 24, 2020

Sources:

  1. Dickinson, Richard and Royer, France. “Weeds of North America”. The University of Chicago Press. Copyright 2014. Page 229, 250-251
  2. Elpel, Thomas J., “Botany in a Day, The Patterns Methods of Plant Identification, An Herbal Field Guide to Plant Families of North America”, 6th Edition. Hopps Press, LLC., Pony, Montana. Copyright January 2018. Page 114-115.
  3. Houdret, Jessica and Farrow, Joanna. “The Kitchen & Garden Book of Herbs: Knowing, Growing, Cooking”. Hermes House, Anness Pulishing Ltd, London. 2006. P 227.
  4. Reader’s Digest, North American Wildlife. “Wildflrowers: Guides to Recognizing Just About Everything in Nature”. The Reader’s Digested Association Inc. 1998 Page 63

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