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Chickweed foliage

Chickweed

Other common names: Starweed, bindweed, winterweed, satin flower, tongue grass.

Common chickweed (Stellaria media) is a matted, herbaceous, winter annual broadleaf plant. It thrives under cool, wet conditions and is a prolific spring weed. It rarely tolerates the hot, dry conditions of late spring or early summer.

Although chickweed is commonly referred to as a weed, it does have a place in folk medicine as a remedy for asthma, constipation, cough, fever and various other ailments. The seed of chickweed is a source of food for birds.

Description

Common chickweed develops prostrate, tender, freely branching stems that root at nodes; opposite, smooth, oval or elliptic leaves, lower leaves with long petioles, upper leaves sessile; shallow, fibrous and very frail roots; flowers are solitary or in small clusters at ends of stems, flower stalks fragile, petals white and seeds are produced in oval, 5-segmented capsule, seeds are circular, flattened and reddish-brown in color. Plants form a thick mat of succulent or tender vegetation in the early spring that is not eradicated by close mowing.

Stems: Stems are slender, branched, and have a row of fine hairs on one side. The stems creep along the ground and can root at the nodes.

Flowers: Small white flowers are borne in clusters at the end of the stems. Flowers have five deeply notched petals and, though small, are quite noticeable.

Seed: Numerous rough, dark brown seeds germinate from late fall through early spring.

Control

Common chickweed is effectively controlled by timely applications of pre-emergent herbicides such as simazine, dithiopyr, dacthal, oryzalin, pendimethalin and isoxaben. Pre-emergent applications should be made in early fall prior to the emergence of chickweed.

Post-emergent control of chickweed in early spring can be achieved with products containing dicamba, dichlorprop and triclopyr. The latter product is only labelled for use on cool season turfgrasses such as tall fescue, bluegrass and perennial ryegrass.

See also: Edible weeds

Mouse ear chickweed

(Cerastium vulgatum)

Growth habit: This perennial weed acts as a winter annual in Oklahoma and has a vigorous prostrate growth habit. It reproduces by seed and creeping, hairy stems that hug the ground. Mowing only stimulates a more vigorous habit of prostrate growth.

Leaves: Sticky, hairy leaves are opposite, oblong, dark green, and rounded on the ends.

Stems: Hairy stems may creep along the ground and take root at nodes that touch the soil.

Flowers: Small, white inconspicuous flowers have five slightly notched petals.

Seed: Small orange or brownish seed are somewhat transparent. They have rough seed coats.