Friday, January 31, 2014

Chickweed is Everywhere

Common chickweed is a spring green that grows in many parts of the world. It is abundant here in the Willamette Valley. It makes a nice protective blanket for bare soil in my garden each spring. This herbaceous mat protects the soil from being damaged by the continuous spring rain in our region. Although it can be found growing all through-out the year, spring is when it really shines and as one of the first flowering plants is much  appreciated by myself and the bees. This is when you get lush mats of it covering the bare soil.

Flowers: The latin name Stellaria media is in honor of its tiny, white, star-shaped flowers.

Leaves & Stems: The opposite leaves are oval shaped with pointed tips. The delicate stems have a single thin line of white hairs. This single line of hairs is an indication that you have the species Stellaria media rather than one of its relatives.

Habitat: Likes lush soil and is most commonly found in your garden. However it will grow in other areas, although there are other species that often grow in these other areas that look very similar. You will see Stellaria growing in gardens, pastures, lawns, cultivated fields, deciduous forests and barren areas.

Growth habits: Low growing, often makes an intertwined mat or clump of greens.

Edibility: The leafy parts are fairly good used fresh or they can be added to a soup, put in a smoothie, or a casserole. I find Chickweed is pleasant to eat and makes a nice addition to a salad. It is delicate and best eaten fresh. There is a hairy chickweed, that has fuzzy leaves and is not so pleasant on the tongue. It looks similar to Stellaria media. If you accidentally collect it, most people find the texture unpleasant on the tongue. It is actually a different Genus. It is Cerastium viscosum. It is however in the same family, called the Pink family or Caryophyllaceae family. It is eaten also but always cooked to decrease the hair irritation. I just don't bother eating it myself.

Herbal Medicine: This plant is soothing and cooling. The aerial parts are used internally as a demulcent to soothe the gastrointestinal system and as a diuretic. Externally it is crushed or chewed to make a spit poultice for wounds, burns, insect bites, hemorrhoids, and other various skin irritations. Some herbalists have found chickweed will decrease the size of cysts.

No comments:

Post a Comment