Well OK .. for years I called this a weed. And it was … by name!
It was most definitely a plant growing in the wrong place as far as I was concerned! It popped up everywhere, creating hundreds of tiny seeds to multiply the problem. Early in the year, chickweed gets an early start. It has no place to hide with its bright green leaves again the dark brown soil. But as the rest of the plants grow it can HIDE!
What has Chickweed got in its favour?
It’s easy to identify and it has small shallow roots. This means that if you want to get rid of it from your flower beds and catch it early before its
seeds disperse, it shouldn’t create much of a problem for you!
Now the really great news!
Chickweed is edible and nutritious, and is great added to salads! It’s like getting your own back ……
REMEMBER: As with any edible weed or wild plant, you need to be 100% certain of its identification before eating it, and never collect plants form areas that may be polluted or exposed to chemical pesticide or herbicide treatments. Also, be aware that even though a plant is edible, some individuals may have allergies and sensitivities to eating or even touching them.
Chickweed is easy to recognize but not as easy to describe. It grows in a thick clump or mat of leaves, stems, tiny buds, and flowers, all of which can be eaten. It is a low growing, rapidly spreading, plant that keeps close to the ground but will climb among your other cultivated plants
The small oval shaped leaves grow in pairs and are bright green in colour. The plant’s stems are soft but amazingly tough! You’ll notice tiny unopened flower buds and white flowers along the ends of the rambling stems.
While I haven’t had a problem with chickweed growing out of control it in my garden, I would definitely not purposely introduce it for the sake of having a wild plant to feast on! Once you become familiar with the appearance and habits of chickweed you’ll notice its presence all over your garden and you will have ready access to far more than you can ever use!
Chickweed in the Kitchen!
Vitamin rich chickweed can be steamed or cooked as an ingredient in soups, but probably the most popular culinary use is simply as an addition to green salads. Harvest the plants when they are lush, green, and full, including the tender stems, buds, and flowers, right along with the leaves, as they’re all edible.
Does Chickweed have any Medicinal Properties?
Chickweed is reputed to have many medicinal properties and is often recommended as a weight-loss aid and for skin irritations. In addition to using the fresh leaves, it can also be dried for use in making herbal teas. The plant is used in formulas for poultices and ointments. However, the medicinal properties of chickweed have not been researched and if you choose to use them, as with all herbal remedies, you do so at your own risk.
Even if you choose to continue to treat chickweed as nothing more than a common weed at least familiarize yourself with its appearance and add it to your collection of edible weeds such as nettles, plantain, and dandelion that you can easily find and identify.