Traditional and Modern Use of Chickweed

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.

Common Name


Scientific Name

Stellaria media



Botanical Description

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.

Parts Used For Food

Largely leaves and stem.

Harvest Time

March, April, July, August, September.
Chickweed Notebook

Food Uses

Chickweed can be boiled and eaten as a green vegetable much like spinach.1 In the past, the plant was used as a potherb by farming communities in Europe and Asia.2

Chickweed 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.

Nutritional Profile

Chickweed is a good source of vitamin C.3 It also contains vitamins A and Bs, fatty acids and minerals.

Chickweed Recipes

Herbal Medicine Uses

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.4

Other Uses

Chickweed yields lilac dyes for woolens.2


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.5

About The Author

Robin HarfordRobin Harford is a plant-based forager, ethnobotanical researcher, and wild food educator. He is the author of Plantopedia: The Past and Present Uses of Wild Plants.

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  1. 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.

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