Common Chickweed

Common_Chickweed_jpgThis family (Caryophyllaceae) commonly called the Pink or Carnation Family consists of 89 genera and 2,070 species of herbs, shrubs and a few trees found in temperate and warm climates.  Latin caryophlum means “a clove” alluding to the clove-like scent to some carnations. There are many varieties of Chickweeds. The Common Chickweed was given its name because birds and chickens relish the seeds and young foliage. The Common Chickweed tender leaves and stems can be used in salads or boiled and served as greens.  The flavor is reported to resemble spinach. Early botanists observed that “this species is a notable instance of what is call the Sleep of Plants; for every night the leaves approach in pairs, so as to include within their upper surfaces, the tender rudiments of the new shoots; and the uppermost pair but at one end of the stalk, are furnished with longer leaf-stalks than the others; so that they can close upon the terminating pair and protect the end of the branch.”

OtherCommonName:

Starwort, Indian-Chickweed, Satin-Flower, Tongue Grass, White Birdseye, Winterweed

ScientificName:

Stellaria media

Community:

Edge

PlantStatus:

Nonnative. Native to Europe

LifeSpan:

Annual

PlantHeight:

to 1.5 feet

FruitingTime:

February to early December

Distribution:

Statewide in NJ

FloweringTime:

Late January to late November; mostly April to June

IdentifyingCharacteristics:

Stem slender often creeping on ground ~ Leaves paired and smooth ~ Flowers white and small, mostly long-stalked, petals deeply notched or cleft