Stellaria media (Caryophyllaceae)
Chickweed, Common Chickweed, Chickenwort, Craches, Maruns, Winterweed.
Description: A sprawling annual growing to 15cm. Has hairy stems, oval leaves, and star-like white flowers.
Habitat and Cultivation: Native to Eurasia, it probably gets its common name from the fact that it is often eaten by chickens. It grows easily in waste ground. Although is an annual, but is somewhat unusual in that it often germinates in the fall (though it also germinates year-round), and hangs on through the winter, flowering and setting seed in the early spring, but dying off by summer. It’s at its best in the spring and fall, as it greatly prefers cool and damp conditions, and will not survive where it’s dry and hot.
Stellaria media is widespread in North America from the Brooks Range in Alaska to all points south within North America. Stellaria media is edible and nutritious, and is used as a leaf vegetable, often raw in salads It is one of the ingredients of the symbolic dish consumed in the Japanese spring-time festival, Nanakusa-no-sekku. Harvest when in flower, in late spring/early summer or in the fall.
Parts Used: Aerial Parts: fresh or died.
NB many practitioners like to use this herb fresh or in a fresh preparation e.g. juiced into a cream base
Related Species: There are several closely related plants referred to as chickweed, but which lack the culinary and medicinal properties of plants in the genus Stellaria. Plants in the genus Cerastium are very similar in appearance to Stellaria and are in the same family (Carophyllaceae). Stellaria media can be easily distinguished from all other members of this family by examining the stems. Stellaria has fine hairs on only one side of the stem in a single band. Other members of the family Carophyllaceae which resemble Stellaria have hairs uniformly covering the entire stem.
Contra-indications: Known allergy, Pregnancy (internally)
Cautions: Generally none. High doses internally may cause diarrhea & vomiting.
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