Chickweed

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Chickweed, Stellaria media, aka chick wittles, clucken wort, adder’s mouth, white bird’s eyes, satin flower, winterweed, and chickeny weed, is available for harvest almost year-round, except in midsummer when it becomes fibrous and tough, and in midwinter when it disappears for a short period of time. The name Stellaria comes from the fact that the flowers are like little stars.

Stellaria= “star”
media= “in the midst of”

Closeup of a group of common chickweed with small white blossoms.

This little beauty is native to Europe but thrives in areas of 53-68 degrees Fahrenheit weather, in either full or partial sun, with moist soil. Usually found in the fall and spring, as it is considered a ‘cool weather’ plant. Chickweed is considered invasive, so there are usually no limitations to how much you can pick. But remember, avoid plants growing near busy roadways and polluted areas.

Although beloved by chickens, chickweed is an excellent salad plant for humans, especially in late winter and early spring. It has an earthy, slightly salty tang and is easily gathered. Unlike dandelions and mustard, it is not very bitter. All parts are edible and high in vitamins like A and C, saponins, and minerals, including iron, copper, magnesium, and calcium, making it one of the best spring tonics. The above-ground parts are the most commonly used, however. She is tender and juicy, and is called the tenderest of wild greens.

Chickweed Contains

  • Triterpenoid saponins
  • Coumarins
  • Flavanoids
  • Carboxylic acids
  • Vitamin C and others

The saponins may account for the herb’s ability to reduce itchiness.

Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, 2nd American Edition, p. 272
Mouse-Eared Chickweed
Mouse-eared Chickweed, photo from Foraging Texas.

Mouse-eared Chickweed needs to be cooked before eating to soften the hair that covers the plant.

Think of chickweed as being as soft as slippery elm, as soothing as marshmallow, and as protective and strengthening as comfrey root.

Weed (1989)

Chickweed is a floppy plant with smooth, light green leaves with a line of white hairs up the side of the round stem, like its many cousins, found virtually everywhere in the world. It prefers gardens, hedge banks, and waste grounds. The above-ground parts are gathered whenever vibrant and green.

Chickweed’s best-known external uses are to soothe itches, bites, stings, inflammations, burns, swellings, sunburn, bruises, splinters, and sore eyes. She makes a good and readily found first-aid/emergency remedy as well. Great for resolving skin problems where some form of heat is involved and where other herbs or creams have failed, especially when a cooling, drawing action is needed.

You can chew up some of the plant and place it on bites and stings while in the field to make a poultice that soothes and cools. Chickweed has the potential to soothe itchiness where other remedies have failed!


Known for clearing up long-standing or ‘indolent’ (slow to develop, progress, or heal; persistent) damage, such as eczema, rheumatic joints, and varicose veins, and is also safe for delicate organs that need cooling and soothing, making it great for eye inflammations of most sorts, including itchiness from contact lense. This lady is known for many similar healing properties that slippery elm bark has.

Chickweed internally helps with hot inflammatory problems like gastritis, colitis, congested chest, blocked kidneys, and gallbladder. It is great for the lungs, sore throats, bronchitis, asthma, irritable/dry cough, as well as other respiratory problems.

Easily made into a tea to drink by bringing water to a boil, removing it from heat, and then adding the herb to steep for 10 minutes. Sweeten to taste with local honey. Lemon makes a great addition as well.

It contains saponins, which means ‘soap-like.’ If you take and rub it in your hands with a little water, you may not actually get bubbles, but you will feel the soapiness, leaving your hands feeling lovely and soft, if smelling like chickweed. Because of the saponin content, consuming large amounts may cause digestive upset. Start with only a few bites and work your way up to 1 to 2 cups a day to avoid any issues if you are looking to eat chickweed. Chopped small, chickweed can give soups and stews a creamy texture!

Excessive intake of saponins should be avoided during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

This small herb, often classed as a troublsome weed, is one of the supreme healers of the herbal kingdom, and has given me wonderful results.

Levi (1966)

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Chickweed is deeply healing. It can reach the places you don’t think about and is gentle enough for kids to use. Take a walk around in the wild and see if you can’t spot this lovely lady waiting for you. She only has one poisonous “look-alike,” Scarlet Pimpernel, but is told apart by the square stems and reddish-orange flowers. Chickweed has round stems with white flowers. I don’t personally consider it a look-alike, but if you ask the internet, that’s what it gives you. Just do your research, use your common sense, and you will be fine.


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Many blessings,
Emma Lee Joy


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