Chickweed

Stellaria, various species

April - October

Details

Chickweed, as the name suggests, is often considered a weed, especially to farmers since the plant produces large sets of seeds and can devastate a crop if not controlled—usually by broad-leaf herbicides. However, if the farms decided to let it have the run of their fields, they would have a nice crop of salad greens. It forms dense mats of foliage, and many homeowners may not even realize that what they consider a weed alongside their house is a nutritious, edible plant.

Common chickweed (Stellaria media) habitat covers from the Brooks Range in Alaska to everywhere in the continental U.S. There are other plants in the U.S. that are also referred to as “chickweed” but are not suitable for consumption like those in the Stellaria genus. Stellaria (including common chickweed) can be identified by fine hairs growing in a single line on only one side of the stem (changing sides at leaf junctions). Imposters will have hairs covering the entire stem. Chickweed grows best in cool weather (fall and spring) and usually dies off during the summer.

Nutrition: Chickweed is high in vitamins C and gamma linolenic acid (GLA) and also provides calcium, potassium, zinc, magnesium, iron and other vitamins and minerals. Probably due to the GLA content, herbalists also use chickweed to relieve skin diseases, hormone imbalances such as in PMS, bronchitis, rheumatism, and as a compress for cuts, burns and bruises. 

Chickweed