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Eastern Shore Food Lab

Stellaria media - Common chickweed

A cool-season green, chickweed makes a great addition to wild salads.  

Common Name: Chickweed
Scientific Name:  Stellaria media
Plant Family: Caryophyllaceae (Daisy Family)
Etymology: The scientific name means “common star” and the common name refers to the tendency of chickens to forage for it. 

How to Identify

Look for opposite paired leaves with pointed tips and smooth margins that rotate up the stem. Between each set of leaves a line of fine hairs, or trichomes, runs up one side of the stem. The line of hairs rotates alternate sides between each node. What appears like ten petals are truly five cleft petals. 

Related edible species: mouseear chickweed (Cerastium vulgatum) and star chickweed (Stellaria pubera), though they are less palatable.

Lookalike species: speedwell (Veronica spp.), scarlet pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis), common spurge (Euphorbia maculata).

Primary Uses

Edible Parts
All aerial parts of chickweed are edible, including the flowers. Enjoy raw, steamed or stir-fried, or as an ingredient in pesto.

Medicinal Uses
Chickweed has a long history of medicinal uses. It is beneficial for the skin and tissue repair, including joint and lung health. Its has historical uses as an antirheumatic, astringent, carminative, demulcent, depurative, diuretic, emmenagogue, expectorant, galactogogue, laxative, ophthalmic, poultice, refrigerant, and vulnerary. 

Habitat 

Chickweed grows in low lush environments and tolerates some shade. It often dies back in hot weather. 

Planting Considerations 

  • USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-11
  • Native Range: Europe, naturalized almost everywhere. 
  • Forest Garden Layer: ground cover
  • Permaculture functions:  Food, medicine, animal forage

Learn More

  • The Wild Wisdom of Weeds by Katrina Blair.
  • Edible Wild Plants by Thomas S. Elias and Peter A Dykeman.
  • Foraging and Feasting by Dina Falconi.
  • Northeast Foraging by Leda Meredith.
  • Native American Food Plants by Daniel Moerman.
  • Incredible Wild Edibles by Samuel Thayer.
  • Foraged Flavor by Tama Matsuoka Wong.