How to Identify Chickweed

Three Methods:Identifying the Physical Features of Common ChickweedFinding Common Chickweed in its Natural HabitatClassifying Other Chickweeds

Chickweed is a common edible weed that contains plenty of nutrients. It's often found growing along the roadside or winding its way through urban and farm environments alike. If you're interested in adding it to your salad bowl or throwing it in your soup, it's important to know how to identify it.

Method 1
Identifying the Physical Features of Common Chickweed

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    Identify the leaves. The leaves for common chickweed begin as small ovals with a pointed tip. As the plant matures, the leaves grow larger and begin to ruffle slightly. The ruffles form around the edge of the oval and looks like a different shape.
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    Examine the stem. One characteristic detail of the chickweed’s stem is the direction of the hair. If you examine the stalk’s hair, you’ll notice that the hairs change position at each node. The node is the knot-like location where the leaves extend out of the stalk.[1]
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    Reveal the inner core. Another characteristic feature of the common chickweed is the inner-core, underneath the stalk. You can reveal the inner-core by pulling the stem of the plant. The inner-core happens because plant develops multiple stalks from the same root system.[2] This is also the reason that a mature plant will sprawl.
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    Look for a sprawling plant. Chickweed grows in a sprawling fashion. It has a weak stem and each side of the stem has a single line of hairs. Younger plants won’t sprawl quite as fully as a matured plant. Instead of looking for a tall plant, seek out a flat sprawling plant.
    • Since there are so many stalks coming from the root system, many weaker plants will become engulfed by chickweed. This is the reason why many lawn owners dislike chickweed.
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    Identify the small white flowers. These appear in the spring and summer time. Each flower has five petals and the deep notching on the flowers makes it appear like 10 petals.

Method 2
Finding Common Chickweed in its Natural Habitat

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    Know chickweed’s climate. Stellaria Media, or common chickweed, translates to little star of the mist. Common chickweed is found throughout the world, and has been reported in every American state. The plant is an annual, meaning it blooms in the spring and dies in the winter. Common chickweed has a high resilience to cold weather, and sometimes will last through a mild winter.[3]
    • Since it is so common and strong of a plant, it can be found in almost every climate.
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    Look for chickweed’s common areas. Look for it where it grows. Common places include the roadside, gardens, vacant lots, and grasslands. It is one of the most common weeds found in lawns.
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    Identify areas prone to flooding. Common chickweed prefers low-leveled areas that accumulates water easily. You're even more likely to find common chickweed in a wooded area that's prone to flooding. Check around your house or neighborhood for low leveled areas that fit this description.
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    Check lawns or croplands. Common chickweed is an invasive species that prefers areas with a history of disturbance, similar to poison ivy.[4] Areas with a history of disturbance include places where the natural ecology has been disturbed like: farming areas, lawns, trails, or fielded areas.
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    Seek common chickweed in other areas. Common chickweed prospers in nutrient-rich areas that may be disturbed or receives plenty of water. Other areas that chickweed is commonly spotted is on walls, new plantations, sewage plants, and near animal manure.[5]
    • It has also been reported along coastal strand-lines of beeches and lakes.
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    Harvest the chickweed. The entire plant is edible and can be used in salads or cooked with other meals. The top of the plant is the best, as the base is woody or stringy. There are also topical benefits from the plant, such as helping a rash.[6]
    • Crush up the plant and rub onto areas of your skin, such as a rash or breakout. If you are experiencing an allergic reaction, chickweed won’t substitute proper medical support.

Method 3
Classifying Other Chickweeds

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    Identify star chickweed. Star chickweed, or stellaria pubera, is a less known variant of chickweed that is mostly found on the east coast. The flowers are very similar to common chickweed, but star chickweed doesn’t sprawl as heavily. One distinguishing feature of the star chickweed is that its hairs extend onto the flower section.
    • The stalk of star chickweed is stronger than the common chickweed, but it is still possible to expose the inner-core.[7]
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    Find mouse-ear chickweed. Mouse-ear chickweed, cerastium vulgatum, is another variety of chickweed that has distinguished dark green leaves. Mouse-ear chickweed is a perennial weed, meaning it lies dormant through the winter and blooms in the spring. This weed also has more hairs that cover the leaves instead of a single line of hairs.
    • The name “mouse ear,” is derived from the fuzzy leaves resembling little mouse ears.[8]
    • You aren’t supposed to eat mouse-ear raw, and instead should cook it like you might cook matured spinach.
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    Identify field chickweed. Field chickweed, or cerastium arvense, is a native North American plant that’s more of a flower than a weed. The leaves are dark green like mouse-ear chickweed, but are shaped more narrowly than other chickweeds. Mouse-ear grows more commonly as an invasive species.[9]
    • The flowers of field chickweed are almost identical to the other types of chickweed.
    • The field chickweed doesn’t take over other plants.


  • A plant that looks similar is the Scarlet Pimpernel. It has square stems and red or blue flowers. It also tastes awful!
  • Chickweed has a subtle flavor and pairs well with stronger salad flavors.

Article Info

Categories: Garden Pests and Weeds | Plant Identification