We have recently published ‘Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions’: i.e. tropical and sub-tropical regions. We rely on regular donations to keep our free database going and help fund development of this and another book we are planning on food forest plants for Mediterranean climates. Please give what you can to keep PFAF properly funded. More >>>

Follow Us:


Stellaria media - (L.)Vill.

Common Name Chickweed, Common chickweed
Family Caryophyllaceae
USDA hardiness 4-11
Known Hazards The leaves contain saponins[7, 65]. Although toxic, these substances are very poorly absorbed by the body and so tend to pass through without causing harm. They are also broken down by thorough cooking. Saponins are found in many plants, including several that are often used for food, such as certain beans. It is advisable not to eat large quantities of food that contain saponins. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish[K]. Report of paralysis attributed to excessive intake. Should not be used during pregnancy or during breastfeeding [301].
Habitats Growing almost anywhere, it is a common garden weed[7, 17].
Range A cosmopolitan plant, found in most regions of the world, including Britain.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Stellaria media Chickweed, Common chickweed

Stellaria media Chickweed, Common chickweed


Translate this page:


Bloom Color: White. Main Bloom Time: Early summer, Early fall, Early spring, Early winter, Late summer, Late fall, Late spring, Late winter, Mid summer, Mid fall, Mid spring, Mid winter. Form: Spreading or horizontal.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Stellaria media is a ANNUAL growing to 0.1 m (0ft 4in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf all year, in flower all year, and the seeds ripen all year. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees, flies. The plant is self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Alsine media. Alsine apetala. Arenaria vulgaris. Stellaria vulgaris.

Plant Habitats

 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Seed
Edible Uses:

Young leaves - raw or cooked as a potherb[2, 7, 9, 12, 52, 54, 183]. They can be available all year round if the winter is not too severe[85]. Very nutritious, they can be added to salads whilst the cooked leaves can scarcely be distinguished from spring spinach[4, K]. The leaves contain saponins so some caution is advised, see the note on toxicity at the top of the page. A nutritional analysis is available[218]. Seed - ground into a powder and used in making bread or to thicken soups[172, 183]. It would be very fiddly to harvest any quantity of this seed since it is produced in small quantities throughout most of the year and is very small[K]. The seed contains 17.8% protein and 5.9% fat[218]. Stellaria media is one of the ingredients of the symbolic dish consumed in the Japanese spring-time festival, Nanakusa-no-sekku.

References   More on Edible Uses

Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Leaves (Dry weight)
  • 0 Calories per 100g
  • Water : 0%
  • Protein: 14.5g; Fat: 2.4g; Carbohydrate: 63.9g; Fibre: 20.5g; Ash: 19.3g;
  • Minerals - Calcium: 0mg; Phosphorus: 0mg; Iron: 0mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 0mg; Zinc: 0mg;
  • Vitamins - A: 30mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.02mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0.14mg; Niacin: 0.51mg; B6: 0mg; C: 375mg;
  • Reference: [ 218]
  • Notes: The figure for vitamin A is in mg

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antirheumatic  Astringent  Carminative  Demulcent  Depurative  Diuretic  Emmenagogue  Expectorant  
Galactogogue  Kidney  Laxative  Ophthalmic  Poultice  Refrigerant  TB  

Chickweed has a very long history of herbal use, being particularly beneficial in the external treatment of any kind of itching skin condition[238]. It has been known to soothe severe itchiness even where all other remedies have failed[254]. In excess doses chickweed can cause diarrhoea and vomiting[254]. It should not be used medicinally by pregnant women[254]. The whole plant is astringent, carminative, demulcent, diuretic, expectorant, laxative, refrigerant, vulnerary[4, 7, 9, 21, 54, 165, 222]. Taken internally it is useful in the treatment of chest complaints and in small quantities it also aids digestion[254]. It can be applied as a poultice and will relieve any kind of roseola and is effective wherever there are fragile superficial veins[7]. An infusion of the fresh or dried herb can be added to the bath water and its emollient property will help to reduce inflammation - in rheumatic joints for example - and encourage tissue repair[254]. Chickweed is best harvested between May and July, it can be used fresh or be dried and stored for later use[4, 238]. A decoction of the whole plant is taken internally as a post-partum depurative, emmenagogue, galactogogue and circulatory tonic[218]. It is also believed to relieve constipation and be beneficial in the treatment of kidney complaints[244]. The decoction is also used externally to treat rheumatic pains, wounds and ulcers[4, 218, 222]. The expressed juice of the plant has been used as an eyewash[244].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

Our Latest books on Perennial Plants For Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens in paperback or digital formats.

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Tropical Plants

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Temperate Plants

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital media.
More Books

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital formats. Browse the shop for more information.

Shop Now

Other Uses

A dynamic accumulator gathering minerals or nutrients from the soil and storing them in a more bioavailable form - used as fertilizer or to improve mulch. Eaten by chickens, wild birds, and mountain sheep. A food plant for the caterpillars of many butterfly species. Suitable for cut flowers, and for dried flowers. Farmers in Scandanavia encourage its growth as they believe a ground cover results in better fruit quality and yield [1-8]. Erosion control or dune stabilization [1-8].

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Dynamic accumulator  Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A very easily grown plant, it prefers moist soil and a position in full sun or partial shade[52, 238]. It can be very lush and vigorous when grown in fertile soil[1], but in infertile soils, it will flower and set seed whilst still very small. A very common garden weed, chickweed grows, flowers and sets seed all year round. The flowers open around 9 o'clock in the morning and remain open for about 12 hours[4]. They do not open in dull weather[4]. The leaves fold up at night time, enfolding and protecting the tender buds of new shoots[4]. Extended bloom season in Zones 9A and above. S. media is an annual, winter annual (capable of survival during milder winters) or sometimes perennial herb [1-8]. For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. A self-seeding annual [1-2]. A clumping mat former. Forming a dense prostrate carpet spreading indefinitely [1-2]. The root pattern is fibrous dividing into a large number of fine roots [1-2].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

Shop Now

Plant Propagation

Seed - this species should not need any encouragement, you are much more likely to be trying to get rid of it than trying to introduce it (eating it is one way of doing that!)[K].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Common chickweed, Chickenwort, Craches, Maruns, Winterweed, Star-of-Bethlehem.

S. media is native to Europe, but has been spread through man's activities throughout the world, and is now one of the most widespread weeds in the world. It occurs throughout Europe, except for the extreme north of Scandinavia and Russia. It extends from the tropical regions of Africa, South America and Asia to the Arctic (Polunin, 1954) and sub-Antarctic islands (Walton, 1975). In the UK, it ranges in altitude from sea level to 950 m, in Europe, it reaches 2470 m and in the Himalayas to 4408 m. In the tropics, it is usually only found at higher altitudes, for example, in Colombia, it is one of the most aggressive weeds at 2600 m and grows to the same altitude in Java, Indonesia [1-8].

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

S. media is a cosmopolitan, widespread and highly successful weedy species. It occurs in cereals, sugarbeet, vegetable and fruit crops, orchards, plantation crops and pastures. It is potentially a weed of almost any crop grown within its geographical range [1-8].

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Stellaria alsineBog Stitchwort, Bog chickweedPerennial0.3 0-0  LMHSNM12 
Stellaria dichotomaAmerican chickweedPerennial0.3 -  LMHSNM02 
Stellaria diversiflora Perennial0.3 -  LMHSNM10 
Stellaria gramineaLesser stitchwortPerennial0.5 4-8 FLMHSNM312
Stellaria jamesianatuber starwortPerennial0.5 4-9  LMHSNM300
Stellaria neglectaGreater Chickweed, Common chickweedAnnual0.1 0-0  LMHSNM10 
Stellaria nipponica Perennial0.2 -  LMHNDM10 
Stellaria puberaStar chickweedPerennial0.2 5-8 FMHFSM313
Stellaria radians Perennial0.0 -  LMHSNM10 
Stellaria sessiliflora Perennial0.3 -  LMHSNM10 

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment



Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

James Archer   Fri Apr 6 2007

Can any one tell me if chickweed can help to treat sweet bitch in horses?

colleen   Thu Feb 14 2008

im taking iron plus which contains chickweed i have a throyid condition does chickweed affect that.graves disease.

Ken Fern, Plants for a Future   Fri Feb 15 2008

We can find no records of chickweed having any effect, positive or negative, on a thyroid condition. It is almost certainly safe to use, though if you are taking other medications then it would be wise to consult with your health practitioner.

Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at [email protected]. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Stellaria media  
© 2010, Plants For A Future. Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567.