Stellaria media, chickweed, is a cool-season annual plant native to Europe, which is often eaten by chickens. It is sometimes called common chickweed to distinguish it from other plants called chickweed. Other common names include chickenwort, craches, maruns, winterweed. The plant germinates in fall or late winter, then forms large mats of foliage. Flowers are small and white, followed quickly by the seed pods. This plant flowers and sets seed at the same time. [*]
Chickweeds are medicinal and edible plants. They are very nutritious, high in vitamins and minerals, can be added to salads or cooked as a pot herb, tasting somewhat like spinach.
The major plant constituents in Chickweed are Ascorbic-acid, Beta-carotene, Calcium, Coumarins, Genistein, Gamma-linolenic-acid, Flavonoids, Hentriacontanol, Magnesium, Niacin, Oleic-acid, Potassium, Riboflavin, Rutin, Selenium, Triterpenoid saponins, Thiamin, and Zinc. The whole plant is used in alternative medicine as an astringent, carminative, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, laxative, refrigerant, vulnerary. [*]
A decoction of the whole plant of Chickweed is taken internally as a post-partum depurative, emmenagogue, galactogogue and circulatory tonic. It is also used to relieve constipation, an infusion of the dried herb is used in coughs and hoarseness, and is beneficial in the treatment of kidney complaints. as an astringent, carminative, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, laxative, refrigerant, vulnerary.
The decoction is also used externally to treat rheumatic pains, wounds and ulcers. Chickweed can be applied as a medicinal poultice and will relieve any kind of roseola and is effective wherever there are fragile superficial veins or itching skin conditions. [*]
The plant has medicinal purposes and is used in folk medicine. It has been used as a remedy to treat itchy skin conditions and pulmonary diseases. 17th century herbalist John Gerard recommended it as a remedy for mange. Modern herbalists mainly prescribe it for skin diseases, and also for bronchitis, rheumatic pains, arthritis and period pain. A poultice of chickweed can be applied to cuts, burns and bruises [*]
They are as numerous in species as they are in region. Most are succulent and have white flowers, and all with practically the same edible and medicinal values. They all exhibit a very interesting trait, (they sleep) termed the ’Sleep of Plants,’ every night the leaves fold over the tender buds and the new shoots. [*]
The cultivation of this one is not necessary it is abundant and easy to find. Gather fresh edible plant between May and July, as soon as flowers appear, it can be used fresh or be dried for later herb use.[*]
Distinguishing Features: Chickweed grows in a unique, intertwined manner, and it has small white star-shaped flowers hence its Latin name, Stellaria media. Stems have a thin line of white hair that grows in a weave-like pattern.
Flowers: Chickweed flowers are small, white, and are produced at the tips of stems and in angles between branches. The white petals are shorter than the 3-4mm long green sepals; each of the 5 petals is 2-lobed so the flower may appear to have 10 tiny petals.
Leaves: Chickweed leaves are oval with pointed tips that are smooth or slightly hairy.
Height: Chickweed can grow from 5 to 50 cm. tall.
Habitat: Chickweed grows in many areas in a wide variety of habitats and soil textures. It is one of the most common weeds founds in lawns but it also grows well in cultivated fields, pastures, waste areas and even under deciduous forests. [*]
Medicinal tea: To 1 tbls. dried herb, 2 if fresh, add 1 cup boiling water steep for 10 min. Take in 1/2 cup doses 2 to 4 times daily, during a cold or flu. [*]