Common Chickweed

(Stellaria media)

Type: annual

Chickweed in lawn

 

Description: A winter annual, mat-forming plant in the pink family (Caryophyllaceae) growing up to 12 inches tall. Stems are light green in color and with hairs in vertical rows. Stems usually run prostrate along the ground, rooting at the nodes, with the upper portion erect or ascending and freely branching. Small oval to elliptic leaves are arranged oppositely, 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches in length, light green in color and smooth or hairy toward base and petioles. Small star-shaped flowers consist of 5 white petals that are deeply lobed, giving the appearance of 10 petals and grow alone or in small clusters at the ends of the stems. The fruit is an oval, straw-colored capsule that contains many tiny reddish brown seeds. Seed output can be from 600 to 15,000 per plant. It reproduces vegetatively through a fibrous root system and by seeds

Habitat: Common chickweed found in a wide variety of habitats and soil textures. Soil pH ranges from 4.8 to 7.3. It prefers soil with high level of nitrogen supply. It can readily tolerate very low temperatures, and can even flower and fruit under a snow cover at temperatures as low as -16°F. It is sensitive to drought. It is found along disturbed lands, cultivated fields, waste places, trails, roadsides, forest, and gardens

Ecological Impacts: Common chickweed is able to create dense mats of shoots up to 12 inches long, shading young seedlings of other plants. It invades, spreads, and out-competes other spring annuals. Common chickweed is reported to contain poisonous glycosides and high nitrate levels.

 

 

 

 

 

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