Compiled by: Katarina Subotich
Common name: Chickweed, Stitchwort.
Botanical name: Stellaria media
This cooling, annual plant is native to Europe and widely spread throughout North America. It has a weak stem so it grows in sprawling fashion. Each steam has a single line of hairs (which makes it one of the easily recognizable marks for identification) and little white flowers (hence the latin name stellaria media- little star). The number of petals is always 5, but the notching on the petals can make it look like 10. It commonly grows on roadsides, grasslands and gardens.
The whole plant is edible, the tops and young leaves being the best for raw consumption. It can also be cooked and prepared as spinach (it even tastes like it).
Chickweed contains saponins, the substances that increase permeability of cell membranes. When ingesting chickweed, those saponins will increase our ability to absorb nutrients. The saponins will help dissolve cysts, thickened mucous in the respiratory and digestive systems, benign tumors. It is used also as a “blood purifier” and cooling herb for inflammatory processes. Chickweed is one of the herbalist’s favorite herbs for skin inflammations, especially those itchy and dry ones.
Chickweed is full of nutrients: minerals like calcium, magnesium, manganese, potassium, zinc, iron; vitamins like C and A, B factors like niacin, folic acid and thiamine. It is very high in chlorophyll.
The fresh plant can be used as addition to salads; crushed into poultice and applied to itchy and inflamed skin, insect bites, etc. In order to preserve it for the winter time (although it can survive mild winters) we can make tincture out of fresh herb by putting it in the jar and covering with vodka (let it sit for 4-6 weeks). The infusion of the fresh plant can be cooling in cases of cystitis and “hot liver”. As Culpepper tells us, it is an old remedy for obesity.
It is fed to caged birds (it contains a lot of seeds) and to animals as it can assist in expulsion of hair balls.