Common chickweed
Kaldari Stellaria media 01.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Caryophyllaceae
Genus: Stellaria
S. media
Binomial name
Stellaria media

Alsine media L.
Stellaria Apetala Ucria ex Roem.

Seeds MHNT

Stellaria media, chickweed, is an annual and perennial flowering plant in the family Caryophyllaceae.[1] It is native to Eurasia and naturalized throughout the world. This species is used as a cooling herbal remedy, and grown as a vegetable crop and ground cover for both human and poultry consumption. It is sometimes called common chickweed to distinguish it from other plants called chickweed. Other common names include chickenwort, craches, maruns, and winterweed. The plant germinates in autumn or late winter, then forms large mats of foliage.


This species is an annual in colder climates, becoming evergreen and perennial in warmer zones,[2] with weak slender stems, up to 40 cm (16 inches). Plants are sparsely hairy. Stellaria media has one line of fine hairs on the stem.[3]: 488  The leaves are oval and opposite, the lower ones with stalks. Flowers are white and small with five very deeply lobed petals. Some plants have no petals. There are usually three stamens and three styles.[4] The flowers quickly form capsules. Plants may have flowers and capsules at the same time.

Plants in the genus Cerastium are very similar in appearance to those of Stellaria, and are in the same family (Caryophyllaceae) but have hairs uniformly covering their stems.[3]


Stellaria media is widespread in Asia, Europe, North America, and other parts of the world. There are several closely related plants referred to as chickweed, but which lack the culinary properties of plants in the genus Stellaria.


Stellaria media is common in lawns, meadows, waste places, and open areas.[5][6]


The larvae of the European moth yellow shell (Camptogramma bilineata), of North American moths pale-banded dart (Agnorisma badinodis) or dusky cutworm (Agrotis venerabilis), or North American butterfly dainty sulphur (Nathalis iole) all feed on chickweed. It is susceptible to downy mildew caused by the oomycete species Peronospora alsinearum.[7]



In both Europe and North America this plant is common in gardens,[8] fields, and disturbed grounds where it grows as a ground cover.


As food

Stellaria media is edible and nutritious, and is used as a leaf vegetable, often raw in salads.[9] It is one of the ingredients of the symbolic dish consumed in the Japanese spring-time festival, Nanakusa-no-sekku. Some varieties or similar species may be too fibrous to eat.[10]

It is also eaten by chickens, wild birds, and mountain sheep.[11][12]


Stellaria media contains plant chemicals known as saponins, which can be toxic to some species (notably fish). It is unlikely that most land animals will be affected, as the quantities involved are large. However, it is not advised for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.[13]

S. media should also not be confused with the mildly toxic Euphorbia.[14]

In folk medicine

The plant has medicinal properties and is used in folk medicine. It has been used as a remedy to treat itchy skin conditions and pulmonary diseases.[15] 17th-century herbalist John Gerard recommended it as a remedy for mange. Modern herbalists prescribe it for iron-deficiency anemia (for its high iron content), as well as for skin diseases, bronchitis, rheumatic pains, arthritis, and period pain.[16] Not all of these uses are supported by scientific evidence.[17] The plant was used by the Ainu for treating bruises and aching bones. Stems were steeped in hot water before being applied externally to affected areas.[18]


The anthraquinones emodin, parietin (physcion) and questin, the flavonoid kaempferol-3,7-O-α-L-dirhamnoside, the phytosterols β-sitosterol and daucosterol, and the fatty alcohol 1-hexacosanol can be found in S. media.[19] Other flavonoid constituents are apigenin 6-C-beta-D-galactopyranosyl-8-C-alpha-L-arabinopyranoside, apigenin 6-C-alpha-L-arabinopyranosyl-8-C-beta-D-galactopyranoside, apigenin 6-C-beta-D-galactopyranosyl-8-C-beta-L-arabinopyranoside, apigenin 6-C-beta-D-glucopyranosyl-8-C-beta-D-galactopyranoside, apigenin 6, 8-di-C-alpha-L-arabinopyranoside.[20] The plant also contains triterpenoid saponins[21][22] of the hydroxylated oleanolic acid type.[23]Proanthocyanidins are present in the testa of seeds.[24]


Stellaria is derived from the word 'stellar' meaning 'star', which is a reference to the shape of its flowers. Media is derived from Latin and means 'between', 'intermediate', or 'mid-sized'.[25]

See also


  1. ^ Fernald, M. L. 1950. “Gray's Manual of Botany”. Eight Edition. American Book Company, New York, NY. 1632 pp.
  2. ^ "Stellaria media". RHS. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  3. ^ a b Stace, C. A. (2019). New Flora of the British Isles (Fourth ed.). Middlewood Green, Suffolk, U.K.: C & M Floristics. ISBN 978-1-5272-2630-2.
  4. ^ Parnell, J. and Curtis, T. 2012. Webb's An Irish Flora. Cork University Press. ISBN 978-185918-4783
  5. ^ Hackney, P. (ed) 1992. Stewart and Corry's Flora of the North-east of Ireland. Institute of Irish Studies, The Queen's University of Belfast. ISBN 0-85389-446-9(HB)
  6. ^ Webb, D.A. Parnell, J. and Doogue, D. 1996. An Irish Flora. Dundalgan Press (W.Tempest) Ltd. ISBN 0-85221-131-7
  7. ^ Constantinescu, O. (1991). "An annotated list of Peronospora names". Thunbergia. 15.
  8. ^ Neltje, Blanchan (2005). Wild Flowers Worth Knowing. Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation.
  9. ^ Stellaria media at Plants for a Future
  10. ^ Benoliel, Doug (2011). Northwest Foraging: The Classic Guide to Edible Plants of the Pacific Northwest (Rev. and updated ed.). Seattle, WA: Skipstone. p. 63. ISBN 978-1-59485-366-1. OCLC 668195076.
  11. ^ Niering, William A.; Olmstead, Nancy C. (1985) [1979]. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers, Eastern Region. Knopf. p. 462. ISBN 0-394-50432-1.
  12. ^ Angier, Bradford (1974). Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books. p. 62. ISBN 0-8117-0616-8. OCLC 799792.
  13. ^ "Stellaria media". Plants for a future. Retrieved 28 April 2021.
  14. ^ Nyerges, Christopher (2016). Foraging Wild Edible Plants of North America: More than 150 Delicious Recipes Using Nature's Edibles. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 47. ISBN 978-1-4930-1499-6.
  15. ^ Hensel, Wolfgang (2008). Medicinal plants of Britain and Europe. London: A&C Black. ISBN 9781408101544.
  16. ^ Wiest, Renee. "Chickweed". Good Health Herbs. Retrieved 15 Dec 2015.
  17. ^ Howard, Michael (1987). Traditional folk remedies : a comprehensive herbal. London: Century. p. 119. ISBN 0-7126-1731-0.
  18. ^ Batchelor, J. and Miyabe, K. (n.d.). Ainu economic plants. 1st ed. 1893.
  19. ^ Studies on the Chemical Constituents From Stellaria media (II). Huang Yuan, Dong Qi, Qiao Shan-Yi, Pharmaceutical Journal of Chinese People's Liberation Army, 2007-03 (abstract) (Article in Chinese)
  20. ^ Dong, Q; Huang, Y; Qiao, SY (2007). "Studies on chemical constituents from stellaria media. I". Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi = Zhongguo Zhongyao Zazhi = China Journal of Chinese Materia Medica (in Chinese). 32 (11): 1048–51. PMID 17672340.
  21. ^ Hu, Y.M.; Wang, H.; Ye, W.C.; Qian, L. (2009). "New triterpenoid fromStellaria media(L.) Cyr". Natural Product Research. 23 (14): 1274–8. doi:10.1080/14786410701642532. PMID 19735039. S2CID 34873907.
  22. ^ Weng, A; Thakur, M; Beceren-Braun, F; Gilabert-Oriol, R; Boettger, S; Melzig, MF; Fuchs, H (2012). "Synergistic interaction of triterpenoid saponins and plant protein toxins". Planta Medica. 78 (11). doi:10.1055/s-0032-1320271.
  23. ^ Böttger, Stefan; Melzig, Matthias F. (2011). "Triterpenoid saponins of the Caryophyllaceae and Illecebraceae family". Phytochemistry Letters. 4 (2): 59. doi:10.1016/j.phytol.2010.08.003.
  24. ^ Bittrich, V.; Amaral, Maria Do Carmo E. (1991). "Proanthocyanidins in the testa of centrospermous seeds". Biochemical Systematics and Ecology. 19 (4): 319. doi:10.1016/0305-1978(91)90020-Z.
  25. ^ Gledhill, David (2008). "The Names of Plants". Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521866453 (hardback), ISBN 9780521685535 (paperback). pp 253, 361

Further reading

  • Everitt, J.H.; Lonard, R.L.; Little, C.R. (2007). Weeds in South Texas and Northern Mexico. Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press. ISBN 0-89672-614-2
  • Tilford, Gregory L. (1997). Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West. Mountain Press Publishing Company. ISBN 0-87842-359-1.

External links