The presence of weeds in the garden can send many gardeners into a tizzy but, in fact, most “weeds” are not as horrible as we make them out to be – they just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. On one continent a plant may be considered a nuisance weed, while on another continent, it may be cultivated for food or medicine. Like everything, different plant appearances, scents or flavors can go in and out of fashion. One day an herb may be the go-to remedy, the next day it may be the weed getting doused in herbicide. As is the case for the use chickweed plants.
Native to Europe, chickweed was introduced to North America and other continents by immigrants who valued it as an herb. Its flowers and leaves are, indeed, edible, though in large quantities the saponoids it contains can cause stomach upset. Chickweed flowers and leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. Fresh flowers and leaves are tossed into salads, stir fries, stews or pesto. Chickweed is also grown as feed for chickens and pigs, hence its common names clucken wort, chicken weed, and birdseed. Wild birds also love to eat chickweed seeds.
Though chickweed’s culinary uses seem rather average, or for the birds, I have not mentioned yet what a powerhouse of nutrients chickweed is. The edible parts of chickweed are loaded with vitamins C, D, and B-complex as well as calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, beta carotene, biotin and PABA.
An added benefit of chickweed – there is usually no need to go foraging for chickweed, as it has naturalized in lawns and garden beds all over the world, which is why it is so often considered and treated as a weed.
Chickweed benefits also include healing. Salves or balms made from chickweed are remedies for irritated skin, rashes, acne, bug bites or stings, burns, eczema, wounds, and warts. They can also be used to reduce swelling, bruising and the appearance of varicose veins. Chickweed is also a common herbal remedy for hemorrhoids and shingles.
Teas or tinctures made with chickweed, clear up cough and congestion, soothe upset stomachs and cleanse the liver, bladder and kidneys. The anti-inflammatory benefits of chickweed eases joint pain in arthritis sufferers.
The same saponoids that prompts caution when using chickweed as food makes it a natural emollient and cleanser. Chickweed can be used in a variety of homemade beauty products to soften skin and hair, and draw out toxins.
Before dousing that out-of-place chickweed with herbicides, you may simply want to consider replanting it in a kitchen herb garden.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article is for educational and gardening purposes only. Before using or ingesting ANY herb or plant for medicinal purposes or otherwise, please consult a physician, medical herbalist or other suitable professional for advice.
Common chickweed, also known as winter weed, is one of the most ubiquitous “weedy” plants in North America. That’s good news for us foragers because it’s also a very tasty—and very nutritious—wild food that grows abundantly at a time of year when little else is thriving.
Chickweed isn’t native to North America – it came over with European settlers and quickly carpeted the countryside with its dense, sprawling thickets. It is the bane of many a gardener for its ability to quickly and mercilessly dominate a garden bed, but if those same gardeners knew that chickweed packs more vitamins and minerals per ounce than spinach or kale, they might not be so quick to exterminate it.
Chickweed is a familiar garden weed recognisable by its tiny white flowers. The seeds were once fed to birds, which is how the plant earned its common name. In pastimes, the plant was a common potherb and had various medicinal uses.
A fast-growing weed that covers the ground in clumps with leafy, hairy stems and bright green, egg-shaped leaves with pointed tips and smooth edges. The flowers are small, white and star-like, and the fruit are egg-shaped pod-bearing seeds.
Annual, rarely perennial. Native.
Bare ground, cultivated land, wasteland.
March, April, July, August, September.
Chickweed can be boiled and eaten as a green vegetable much like spinach. In the past, the plant was used as a potherb by farming communities in Europe and Asia.
The leaves can also be eaten raw as a savoury herb in salads and sandwiches, or chopped and added to soups, omelettes, stuffing, meatballs, pies or used as a garnish.
It is a good source of vitamin C. It also contains vitamins A and Bs, fatty acids and minerals.
Chickweed was widely used as an anti-inflammatory herb. For example, chickweed cream was used to soothe eczema, sunburn and insect stings as well as to draw out boils and splinters.
Also yields lilac dyes for woollens.
Chickweed may cause allergic reactions in some people. The herb is also best avoided during pregnancy and when breastfeeding because there is not enough information about its safety.
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Kermath, BM et al. (2013) Food plants in the americas: a survey of the domesticated, cultivated, and wild plants used for human food in north, central and south america and the caribbean.
Mills, S. Y. & Bone, K. (eds.) (2005) The essential guide to herbal safety. St. Louis: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone.
Sturtevant, E. L. (1919) Sturtevant’s notes on edible plants. Albany: J. B. Lyon.
Turner, N. J. et al. (2011) Edible and tended wild plants, traditional ecological knowledge and agroecology. Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences. [Online] 30 (1–2), 198–225.
Have known & planted chickweed for many years under the impression that its the best greenfeed for Canaries —- Was totally surprised to see how incredibly nutricious it is for many people —-never mind the medicinal value. Eat it regulary for strenghtening the voice.
Natalie willed this wonderful weed into the Wild Abundance garden, now it comes up without fail in early spring and with her winter cover crops. She started eating chickweed regularly when she lived at Wild Roots, and since then it’s been a staple in the garden and kitchen. Chickweed flourishes under row cover with the kale and in the paths, which are protected by raised beds to their sides. Our permaculture apprentices enjoy salads of chickweed during their stay here.
You can transplant chickweed into your garden just dig up a clump and nestle it in a corner, or wherever you want it. It’s a funny thing to desire a weed in a garden so very much, but chickweed is a very well-behaved and generous one. In fact, it doesn’t seem to compete with cultivated plants, and it yields a tremendous amount of healthy food.
Generally chickweed likes a nice combo of moisture and sun. It will thrive in springtime, die back during the hotter months, then reappear when things cool down. In the wild, European chickweed tends to appear on forest edges. Native “star” chickweed pops up in the forest, as it appreciates more dense shade.
Chickweed advantages likewise consist of recovery. Balms or salves made from chickweed are treatments for aggravated skin, breakouts, acne, pest hurts or attacks, burns, dermatitis, injuries, as well as verrucas. They can likewise be utilized to decrease swelling, wounding as well as the look of varicose blood vessels. Chickweed is likewise a typical natural solution for tiles as well as piles.
Tinctures or teas made with chickweed, clear up coughing as well as blockage, calm indigestions as well as clean the liver, bladder as well as kidneys. The anti-inflammatory advantages of chickweed alleviates joint discomfort in joint inflammation victims.
When utilizing chickweed as food makes it an all-natural emollient as well as cleanser,
The very same saponoids that motivates care. Chickweed can be utilized in a range of homemade beauty products to soften skin as well as hair, as well as extract contaminants.
Before snuffing that out-of-place chickweed with herbicides, you might just wish to take into consideration replanting it in a cooking area natural herb yard.
Disclaimer: The components of this short article is for academic as well as horticulture functions just. Prior to consuming or utilizing ANY natural herb or plant for medical functions or otherwise, please get in touch with a doctor, clinical herbalist or various other ideal expert for guidance.