Chickweed spreads carpet-like where the soil is fallow, as well as in the vegetable bed. Instead of annoying about this indestructible and at the same time delicate herb, we should harvest and eat it. Chickweed is one of the most common wild herbs in our latitudes. The plant is a popular food plant for birds and small rodents. Due to the high content of vitamins and minerals, the plant is also used for salad. But also as a medicinal plant against persistent cough or supportive in rheumatism, the chickweed can serve well.
Profile of chickweed:
Scientific name: Stellaria media
Plant family: carnation family, pink family (Caryophyllaceae)
Other names: common chickweed, chickenwort, craches, maruns, winterweed
Sowing time / Planting time: March
Flowering period: almost all year
Harvest time: year round, especially spring and summer
Useful plant parts: leaves, flowers, buds, seeds, shoots
Location: sunny to shady
Soil quality: nutrient-poor and loamy soils
These information are for temperate climate!
Use as a medicinal herb: cough, flu infections, rheumatoid arthritis, wound healing
Use as aromatic herb: salads, herbal pesto, herb butter, raw on buttered bread
Plant characteristics and classification of chickweed
Origin and occurrence of the chickweed
It is not reconstructable today, where the plant originally came from. What is certain, however, is that the plant is of European-Asian origin. The chickweed can be found today on almost every continent. They are found mainly in the lowlands. In the high mountains, however, it can still grow up to 1,800 meters (5,900 feet).
Chickweed can be found wild especially in nutrient-rich and loamy locations. It is often found on overgrown or fat meadows, on roadsides, in parks or on the edge of agricultural land.
Plant order of chickweed
Chickweed (Stellaria media) belongs to the family of the pinks (Caryophyllaceae). The plant also belongs to the genus of stitchwort (Stellaria), which includes nearly 200 species. These include also the addersmeat or the alsine-like starwort.
The today’s name is connected with the peculiarity that birds or above all chickens quarrel about the herb.
Look and characteristics of the chickweed
The common chickweed is a typical ground-cover plant. The annual plant usually reaches stature heights of 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 in), but can also grow up to 30 cm (12 in). Chickweed form a fine, flat root system that contains many dark brown to light brown strongly branched root hairs.
Chickweed has ovate and slightly tapered leaves, which have a smooth leaf margin and grow up to 0.5 and 2 cm (0.2 to 0.8 in). From the lead node to the tip, a darker leaf venation is usually visible. The leaves grow opposite each other on the multi-branched stems.
With a favorable annual climate, the herb blooms all year round. However, new plants usually start flowering in mid-May. There, the common chickweed forms five-petalled white petals, each of which is in two parts. The small flowers themselves are arranged in small cymes. Each flower contains up to five stamens.
The fruit ripening of the flowers begins at the end of September to mid-October. There, the flowers form capsule fruits that contain up to 1 mm (0.04 in) long seeds.
Chickweed – cultivation and care
Chickweed has a large tolerance range and can grow in both sunny and shady locations. Optimal, however, are partially shaded sites. To the soil, however, the plant has some demands. The plant loves nutrient-rich and loamy soils.
Chickweed is very easy to grow. In the house or on the windowsill, it can be grown almost the entire year. In the field, the seeds can be sown from mid-March. The plant needs dark to germ. The seeds should be pressed about 1 to 1.5 cm (0.4 to 0.6 inches) into the ground. Immediately after sowing, the soil should be moderately moistened. As a rule, the first sprouts appear after 7 to 14 days. A planting distance is not to be considered. A cultivation on the balcony or terrace is also possible. Flat pots or window boxes will do fine.
Chickweed grows on nutrient-rich soils. Sandy soils with little nutrient potential should be enriched with compost and some clay mineral. In regular garden soil an additional fertilization is usually not necessary.
The plant likes rather damp soils. Regular but not too abundant watering is optimal for the plant. Shorter dry phases (3 to 5 days) survive the chickweed usually without problems. Exceptions are full sunny locations on very hot days. In such phases, it may be necessary to water vigorously in the evening. In pot cultures, the soil should always be kept moderately moist.
Special care instructions are not to be observed. The plant needs no additional care when planted in good soil.
Chickweed are annuals and die after one season. However, sometimes the leaves and flowers can be seen until winter time. The plant is very frost tolerant.
Use of chickweed
Chickweed not only tastes good, it is also a strong medicinal herb, which one does not even look at this tender plant. It gives us delicious green all year round, as long as the soil is frost-free. All above-ground parts such as flowers, leaves, stems and seeds can be used. However, it is consumed today mainly as salad herb and valuable vitamin donor.
Chickweed in the kitchen
Chickweed is ideal as a salad base and exceeds normal lettuce with the wealth of its ingredients many times over. So besides many other valuable ingredients, it has twice as much calcium, three times as much potassium and magnesium and seven times as much iron as lettuce. Thanks to its particularly mild taste, it is even liked by children.
Chickweed is used in herbal quark, herbal butter and spreads. In addition, it goes well with green smoothies, it is mild and fresh all year round.
Cooked, the herb can be prepared as spinach. It is suitable as a sole vegetable, as well as combined with other vegetables. It goes well with rice, potatoes, pasta, on pizza, as a filling and in many other variations.
Chickweed as a medicinal herb
Not only in the kitchen, even as a medicinal herb it can be used extensively. In natural medicine, chickweed usually plays only a minor role. Nevertheless, the plant has some valuable ingredients, which are mainly used for cold symptoms and some external discomfort.
In medieval medicine the leaves of the plant were recommended especially for open or painful wounds. The herb was used primarily as an envelope, whereby an infusion was previously prepared from the leaves. Pastor Sebastian Kneipp recommended this herb for lung disease, cough and hemorrhoids.
Today, chickweed is used almost exclusively for cold symptoms and occasionally for external, non-open wounds.
Chickweed can be used for these ailments and diseases
- badly healing wounds
- eye inflammation
- itching relieve
- joint inflammation
- kidney weakness
- lower leg ulcer
- lung disease
- promotional menstruation
- promoting milk production
- skin problems
- spring fever
- blood purifier
Preparation of chickweed tea
The herb can be used well as an ingredient for cough tea or cold tea.
Time needed: 10 minutes
This is how to prepare chickweed tea by yourself.
- put about 2 to 3 teaspoons of fresh chickweed leaves in a cup
- dash with boiling hot water.
- Let brew for about 7 to 10 minutes
- sip twice or three times a day
For inflamed and tired eyes, an eye bath with lukewarm tea can help. The tea is also used externally for envelopes and has a cooling, anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect. Fresh herb can also be easily squeezed directly onto affected skin. Similarly, a brew of chickweed is suitable as a bath additive.
In homeopathy extracts of chickweed are mainly used for joint and bone complaints. Globulis are usually taken against stiffened joints, back pain and thigh complaints.
There are currently no known side effects of chickweed.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist. Visiting this page can not replace the visit to the doctor. For serious or unclear complaints, consult your doctor.
Buy Chickweed – What to pay attention to?
As chickweed is grown in some gardens as a ground cover or as a lettuce plant, mostly all seed producers offer chickweed seeds. You can also purchase fresh plants in garden center or online.
For the healing use of the plant, dried leaves of the plants can be bought. Most can be found on online marketplaces and at some specialized herbalists.