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Stellaria media is often confused with:
Cerastium glomeratum Form
Cerastium holosteoides Cerastium fontanum ssp. vulgare
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Ceanothus americanus Ceanothus americanus
Spiraea alba Spiraea Alba
Viola sororia Viola papilionacea
Stellaria media has some other problems:
Common Chickweed

Chickweed Stellaria media

Phonetic Spelling
stell-AR-ee-uh MEED-ee-uh
This plant is an invasive species in North Carolina
Description

Chickweed is a cool-season, edible, annual herb in the carnation family (Caryophyllaceae) that is generally considered a weed. It is native to Eurasia and North Africa and found throughout the United States. The common name is an acknowledgment of chickens’ fondness for this plant as a food source. 

It grows most aggressively in the late winter and early spring and in moist, neutral to acidic soil and full sun or partial shade. It can be very lush and vigorous when grown in a fertile soil; in infertile soils it will flower and set seed while still very small. With a sprawling habit it grows 4 to 20 inches high and 4 to 12 inches wide. It branches abundantly near the base, but very little toward the tips of the stems. A typical plant will bloom sporadically for one to two months. Chickweed spreads by reseeding itself or vegetatively, by rooting at the leaf nodes along the stems. It sets flowers and seeds at the same time and can spread rapidly. The root system is shallow and fibrous making it easy to pull unwanted plants by hand.

Despite its weediness, chickweed does have some positive attributes. The stem, leaves and flowers are all edible. It attracts bees, butterflies and songbirds, and is a host plant for many butterfly and moth species. 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, enfolding and protecting the tender buds of new shoots.

Diseases, Insects and Other Plant Problems: It is listed as invasive by the NC Invasive Plant Council. It is often considered a weed, especially on lawns, but it can be well managed by applying a preemergent herbicide. Be sure to follow the labeled instructions 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. The saponins are broken down by thorough cooking. 

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

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#invasive#low growing#white flowers#edible weed#moth caterpillar host#winter interest#winter annual weed#edible seeds#edible leaves#larval host plant#bird friendly#butterfly friendly#bee friendly#butterfly caterpillar host#weed#moth friendly#wildlife friendly
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#invasive#low growing#white flowers#edible weed#moth caterpillar host#winter interest#winter annual weed#edible seeds#edible leaves#larval host plant#bird friendly#butterfly friendly#bee friendly#butterfly caterpillar host#weed#moth friendly#wildlife 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
    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, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11a, 11b
  • 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:
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Songbirds
    Problems:
    Invasive Species
    Weedy