Ontario Weeds: Chickweed

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Excerpt from Publication 505, Ontario Weeds, Order this publication

Table of Contents

  1. Name
  2. Other Names
  3. Family
  4. General Description
  5. Stems and Roots
  6. Leaves
  7. Flowers and Fruit
  8. Habitat
  9. Similar Species
  10. Related Links

Name: Chickweed, Stellaria media (L.) Vill.,

Other Names: Common chickweed, stellaire moyenne, mouron des oiseaux

Family: Pink Family (Caryophyllaceae)

General Description: Annual or winter annual, reproducing by seed and by horizontally spreading leafy stems which root at the nodes.

Photos and Pictures

Chickweed.

Chickweed. A. Plant. B. Section of stem with a single flower between the pair of branches and showing narrow lengthwise lines of hair on alternate sides of the stem. C. Seedling, top view. D. Seedling, side view. E. Young plant.

Chickweed. A. Plant. B. Section of stem with a single flower between the pair of branches and showing narrow lengthwise lines of hair on alternate sides of the stem. C. Seedling, top view. D. Seedling, side view. E. Young plant.

Stems & Roots: Stems - prostrate, spreading or nearly erect, much-branched, 5-50cm (2-20in.) long, soft, delicate, bright green, with swollen nodes, smooth except for a single, narrow lengthwise line (about 1mm, 1/25in. wide) of fine white hair on one side of each branch, this line of hair alternating from one side of the branch to the other on successive internodes; stems rooting from nodes which touch the ground, and the plant spreading by this means to form dense, matted patches.

Leaves: Opposite (2 per node), stalked near the base, stalkless near ends of branches, blades oval with pointed tips, smooth or slightly hairy.

Flowers & Fruit: Flowers small, white, produced at tips of stems and in angles between branches; petals white, shorter than the 3-4mm (1/8-1/6in.) long green sepals; each of the 5 petals is 2-lobed so the flower may appear to have 10 tiny petals; seedpod somewhat egg-shaped, about as long as or slightly longer than the sepals, the tip splitting into 6 tiny teeth and releasing the reddish-brown somewhat spherical seeds which are about 1.2mm (1/20in.) in diameter. It may start blooming in early spring and produce flowers and seeds throughout the growing season.

Habitat: Chickweed occurs throughout Ontario in a wide variety of habitats and soil textures. It is one of the most common weeds in lawns but is equally at home in gardens, cultivated fields, pastures, waste areas and even under deciduous forests.

Similar Species: It is distinguished from similar plants by its bright green colour, its ovate-pointed leaves, and the single lengthwise line of fine white hair on one side of the stem but switching sides above and below each node.

Related Links

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