Chickweed, the herb; not the weed
Common Chickweed (Stellaria media) is germinating right now in my yard and fields.
Last year, some of my friends from college came over. They were identifying some of my winter plants, studying my lichens on the trees and trying to find, of all things, salamanders! One of them said, "I can get you the names of some herbicides that’ll take care of them weeds." I looked down at the ground and he was talking about my chickweed! I told him that, first of all, I don’t like to use chemicals on my land and, secondly, I wouldn’t kill it because I use it!
They looked at me like I was a crazy man! One of them said, "You grow this on purpose?" Told him no… He said, "You know according to the USDA and the National Plant Protection Board, you can’t legally cultivate this stuff?" He said it was like kudzu.
Now I ain’t no rocket scientist, but I can tell the difference between chickweed and kudzu. I’ve never seen chickweed growing up a tree; never seen it cover a house and I have never seen chickweed growing in the middle of summer!
I told my friend the chickweed here on my land is chickweed the herb, and not chickweed the invasive weed. He asked me to explain the difference… I’ve always enjoyed telling those college boys how it’s done… I told them I eat it on salads. They again looked at me like I was a pecan tree shy of an orchard. I then told them all of the benefits to having chickweed on my land.
Chickweed is, at the least, a great herb to use in salads. I like to harvest and wash a bowl full to keep in the refrigerator all through the winter. I’ll add a handful to my salad greens because it’s a cheap way to get that spinach flavor without having to buy spinach.
You may ask, "What about all of those vitamins in spinach?" Well, friends; chickweed has ascorbic acid, beta carotene, calcium, coumarin, genistein, gamma-linolenic acid, flavonoid, hen-triacontanol, magnesium, niacin, oleic acid, potassium, riboflavin, rutin, selenium, triterpenoid saponins, thiamin and zinc!
My friends here at the CFN only give me a few words to tell my stories, so I can’t tell you all of the things that I use chickweed for. I will say I use it medicinally too. I make teas and poultices out of it. I’ll rub it on my bug bites to make them stop itching and I’ll make chickweed water to help me with my digestion.
I can’t say that all of this would be good for you, but it works for me.
So the next time somebody says your yard is full of weeds, look around and see if there’s an herb hidden in there. It might make you feel better, and, it might save you some money with supplementing your food or keeping you from buying weed killers!
If you have any questions about other uses for chickweed, e-mail me and I’ll tell you all I know.