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Birdweed Stellaria media

Other plants called Birdweed:

Phonetic Spelling
stell-AR-ee-uh MEED-ee-uh
Description

Stellaria media, or Chickweed, is a cool-season annual plant that is sometimes considered a weed. This plant produces 1/2 inch to 1 inch stems that usually sprawl across the ground. It branches abundantly near the base, but very little toward the tips of the stems. Pairs of opposite leaves occur at intervals along these stems. It is in leaf all year, in flower all year, and the seeds ripen all year. The stems terminate in small white flowers during the spring for plants that are winter annuals, and during the summer or autumn for plants that are summer annuals. A typical plant will bloom sporadically for 1-2 months. Each flower is replaced by a cylindrical seed capsule that contains several seeds. The root system is shallow and fibrous. This plant spreads by reseeding itself; it can also spread vegetatively by rooting at the leaf nodes along the stems. It sets flowers and seeds at the same time and can spread rapidly.

The plant grows easily in a moist soil and full sun or partial shade. It can be very lush and vigorous when grown in a fertile soil, but in infertile soils it will flower and set seed while still very small. A very common garden weed, chickweed grows, flowers and sets seed all year round. The flowers open in the morning and remain open for about 12 hours. They do not open in dull weather. The leaves fold up at night time, enfolding and protecting the tender buds of new shoots.

The plant is edible and is also a food source for poultry. It can be confused with other plants that look similar but is distinguished by having hairs on only one side of the stem and hairs on the sepals. It can grow in partial shade to full sun and is often seen in the lawn. Typical growing conditions consist of moist to mesic conditions, and a fairly fertile loam or clay-loam soil. Light shade and temporary flooding are tolerated. It is often seen in woodland areas prone to flooding or standing water, thickets, cropland and fallow fields, lawns and gardens, nursery plots, areas adjacent to buildings, and miscellaneous waste areas. While Chickweed occurs to a limited extent in natural habitats, where it is sometimes invasive, this plant prefers areas with a history of disturbance.

Chickweed has adventitious roots. 

Diseases, Insects and Other Plant Problems:

This plant is often considered a weed, especially on lawns, but it can be well managed by preemergence herbicides. Be sure to read the label for correct use. The leaves contain saponins, which, although toxic, are very poorly absorbed by the body and tend to pass through without causing harm. They are also broken down by thorough cooking. 

 

VIDEO Created by Homegrown featuring Travis Birdsell, County Extension Director and Extension Agent for Ashe County Extension

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Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#bees#low growing#white flowers#weed#edible weed#wildlife plant#winter interest#winter annual weed#edible seeds#edible leaves#bird friendly#butterfly friendly
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#bees#low growing#white flowers#weed#edible weed#wildlife plant#winter interest#winter annual weed#edible seeds#edible leaves#bird friendly#butterfly friendly
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Stellaria
    Species:
    media
    Family:
    Caryophyllaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Food source for poultry. Chickweed also has a long history of herbal use in the external treatment of any kind of itching skin condition.
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eurasia and North Africa
    Distribution:
    Throughout the United States.
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Attracts bees, butterflies and songbirds. Host plant for many butterfly and moth species
    Edibility:
    The leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds are edible. They can be used raw in a salad or lightly cooked. Best harvested when the flowers are in bloom. Taste is reminiscent of spinach or corn silk.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 0 ft. 4 in. - 1 ft. 8 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 4 in. - 1 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Edible
    Herb
    Weed
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Semi-evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Ascending
    Creeping
    Dense
    Horizontal
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Occasional Flooding
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    Less than 12 inches
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a, 10a, 10b, 11b, 11a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Description:
    Each flower is replaced by a cylindrical seed capsule that is light brown with 6 small teeth along its upper rim; it contains several seeds. Each mature seed is reddish brown, somewhat flattened, and orbicular-reniform; its surface is minutely bumpy.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Cyme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Good Cut
    Good Dried
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Winter
    Flower Shape:
    Star
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Colored Sepals
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Individual flowers occur from the axils of the outer pairs of leaves, while the stems terminate in small cymes of white flowers. Each flower is about ¼ inch across, consisting of 5 white bifid petals (appearing to be 10 petals), 5 green sepals, 3 white styles, 2 to 10 stamens, and a light green ovary in the center. The sepals are lanceolate, hairy on the outer surface, and longer than the petals; each sepal is at least 1/8 inch long. The slender pedicels are finely pubescent. The blooming period occurs during the spring for plants that are winter annuals, and during the summer or autumn for plants that are summer annuals. A typical plant will bloom sporadically for 1-2 months.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Semi-evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are larger toward the tips of the stems, spanning up to ¾ inch in length and ½ inch across. Toward the base of the plant usually have short petioles that are slightly hairy, while the leaves near the tip of each stem are usually sessile. The leaves are oval-ovate, to broadly elliptic entire (toothless) along their margins, and hairless on the upper surface; the lower surface is occasionally hairy.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    The succulent stems are green or burgundy and often have lines of white hairs.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Pollinator Garden
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Songbirds
    Problems:
    Weedy