Whilst walking in Steenbok Park the other day I came across the most prolific crop of Chickweed behind the tennis courts; how it got there is a mystery; the seeds could have been in compost, or dispersed by dogs or humans. Chickweed occurs all over the world and is used as a vegetable or medicine. The following article will give you a new ‘appreciation’ of this troublesome little weed that invades our flower beds.
Stellaria media, Stellaria pubera
Other Names: Common Chickweeds, Star Chickweed, Mouse-ear Chickweed
Chickweed Herbal, Edible and Medicinal Uses
Chickweeds are medicinal and edible plants. They are very nutritious, high in vitamins and minerals, can be added to salads or cooked as a pot herb, tasting somewhat like spinach.
The major plant constituents in Chickweed are Ascorbic-acid, Beta-carotene, Calcium, Coumarins, Genistein, Gamma-linolenic-acid, Flavonoids, Hentriacontanol, Magnesium, Niacin, Oleic-acid, Potassium, Riboflavin, Rutin, Selenium, Triterpenoid saponins, Thiamin, and Zinc. The whole plant is used in alternative medicine as an astringent, carminative, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, laxative, refrigerant, vulnerary.
A decoction of the whole plant of Chickweed is taken internally as a post-partum depurative, emmenagogue, galactogogue and circulatory tonic. It is also used to relieve constipation, an infusion of the dried herb is used in coughs and hoarseness, and is beneficial in the treatment of kidney complaints. as an astringent, carminative, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, laxative, refrigerant, vulnerary. A decoction of the whole plant is taken internally as a post-partum depurative, emmenagogue, galactogogue and circulatory tonic. Chickweed is also used to relieve constipation, an infusion of the dried herb is used in coughs and hoarseness, and is beneficial in the treatment of kidney complaints. New research indicates Chickweed’s use as an effective antihistamine. The decoction is also used externally to treat rheumatic pains, wounds and ulcers. Chickweed can be applied as a medicinal poultice and will relieve any kind of roseola and is effective wherever there are fragile superficial veins or itching skin conditions.
Chickweed Habitat and Plant Description
Chickweeds are an annual herb, widespread in temperate zones, arctic zones, and throughout, probable origin Eurasia. Chickweeds have established themselves all over the world, possibly carried on the clothes and shoes of explorers. They are as numerous in species as they are in region. Most are succulent and have white flowers, and all with practically the same edible and medicinal values. They all exhibit a very interesting trait, (they sleep) termed the ’Sleep of Plants,’ every night the leaves fold over the tender buds and the new shoots.
The cultivation of this one is not necessary it is abundant and easy to find. Gather fresh edible plant between May and July, as soon as flowers appear, it can be used fresh or be dried for later herb use.
Chickweed Folklore and History
Chickweed water is an old wives’ remedy for obesity.
Medicinal tea: To 1 tbls. dried herb, 2 if fresh, add 1 cup boiling water steep for 10 min. Take in 1/2 cup doses 2 to 4 times daily, during a cold or flu.
Add Chickweed to salads as a fresh spring green.
Article by Deb Jackson & Karen Bergeron