Although Stellaria media (common Chickweed plant) is native to Europe, it is now one of the most commonly found weeds in lawns throughout Georgia and the United States, including Alaska. Quite adaptable to cold temperatures and a fast-growing spring annual that is easy to grow, chickweed can also be found in pastures, deciduous forests, cultivated fields, and waste areas.
Chickweed is easily identifiable due to the unique, intertwined manner in which it grows. Its bright green leaves are oval with pointed tips and grow to be about ½” long, while stems have a dense line of white hair that grows in a weave-like pattern. The tiny white flowers appear at the stem’s tip and at angles between the branches. Flowers are produced throughout the growing season (even in dry, hot conditions) and are usually smaller than 3-4mm (1/8”) in length and diameter. The chickweed plant only grows to about 3-4” at its tallest height.
Despite its attractive appearance, it is considered a weed because of its ability to smother lawns and small plants that are nearby in the spring. Prevalence of this weed in grass is a major reason people call on a lawn service to provide weed control. Chickweed also poses a significant threat to grain, as well as other crops that are planted early, such as onions, peas, and spinach. It can quickly and easily spread through gardens, lawns, and pastures, as well as spread across turfgrass in large dense patches.
Chickweed is an edible plant and is crucial for wildlife because it flowers in cool weather, providing seed for birds in the early spring. The leaves are a favorite of ground-feeding birds, rabbits, mountain sheep, and a number of other mammals. Some people add raw leaves to salads and sandwiches, as well as stews and soups. The stems and leaves are also safe to eat. Chickweed does have medicinal properties and has been used to treat everything from constipation and abscesses to tired eyes.