Stellaria media (chickweed)

Chickweed on the windowsill of a condemned house
Chickweed on the windowsill of a condemned house.

The common chickweed, or simply chickweed (Stellaria media), is an annual plant whose shoots can reach a length of between 5 and 40 centimetres. It grows from autumn to the following summer. In mild regions it can flower as early as February.

Chickweed flowers in February
Flowering chickweed in February.

What makes it interesting for human consumption is its high vitamin C content. However, it also contains saponin and oxalic acid and should not be eaten in large quantities.

Chickweed by the wayside
Chickweed by the wayside.

Habitats & distribution

Stellaria media is a common plant in urban areas.

It grows in parks, gardens, along roadsides and even on walls and between stairs.

Stellaria media in snow
Stellaria media in snow.

Its native range includes Europe, Asia and North Africa. As an introduced species, chickweed can also be found in other regions. With the exception of the polar icecaps, chickweed is found all over the world (distribution map).

Chickweed in the garden

Stellaria media is easy to grow in the garden or on the balcony. It can be sown either in spring, from around March, or in early autumn, from September to October.

The sowing depth is about half a centimetre.

Stellaria media seeds
Chickweed (Stellaria media) seeds.

At 18 to 20 °C, it takes between 5 and 10 days for the seeds to germinate.

In the garden, chickweed develops best in humus-rich to slightly loamy soil. It can also survive in sandy soil, but remains small there and only produces a small yield.

Peat-free substrates for herbs or vegetables are suitable for sowing in pots.

Stellaria media seedlings
Stellaria media seedlings.

The soil should be evenly moist and must not dry out on the surface until the seedlings are about 3 centimetres high.

Sunny to semi-shady locations are suitable.

chickweed or common chickweed