plantlore

Chickweed *Stellaria media*

I don’t know a prettier weed than this one. It twinkles at me in long meadow grass and along hedgerows. Also known as star wort, adders mouth, tongue grass and star weed. Once you find it you can see how it lives up to its Latin name, apparently the popular folk name ‘chickweed’ was given purely because of how much chickens love it (gothweed probably means something else other wise I’d be pushing for that).

Identifying

There are a couple of lookalikes for chickweed so, as ever; be sure to do your own research and only consume/use something when you are 100% sure.

One such lookalike is Petty Scourge which has uses in treating boils and lumps but is not recommended (modern medicine is safer, in theory) and is not edible. Personally I don’t think it looks enough like chickweed to be a risk. However very young petty scourge looks a little similar.

The scourge in my garden.

Another possible doppelganger is Richardia, however if you look closely (close enough to smell) the blossoms can look star like but not quite and it’s pretty rank (I don’t think chickens or goths would go for it).

A good way to spot it is to keep your eye out for it’s slightly larger relative, Stitchwort. Which has the same petals but is larger and less generous. Once you get your eye in you’ll see it everywhere.

So back to the star of our show today (aha puns); Chickweed grows along the bottom of hedges and through meadow grass. The flowers have 5 petals which are forked making it look like there are 10.

So tiny 😍

It’s a delicate little plant; where it grows prolifically it looks like a carpet of tiny stars in the grass. Collecting it takes time and patience as it’s so small. Please do be sure not to ravage one patch (or pull up roots) , but visit many. It is time consuming and you may want to collect a good couple of handfuls to use. It dries easily, simply lay it out on a sunny window sill.

A carpet of lovely stars in ‘Harry’s field’

2 distinguishing features are a single line of hairs down the stem, and when pulled apart gently there is an inner stem known as a ‘bone’. Again, if you’re not sure do some more research.

Components

Chickweed is surprisingly nutritious and filling for such a tiny plant. It contains lascorbic-acid, beta-carotene, calcium, magnesium, potassium, saponins, selenium, thiamin, zinc, copper, iron vitamins A, D, B and C. In fact it is so high in vitamin A it’s said to improve eyesight giving supermarket spinach a run for its money.

Medicinal Uses

Chickweed was once recommended to increase milk flow in breastfeeding mothers. However it is no longer recommended for pregnant mothers, breastfeeding or young children as it is high in nitrates.

External

Chickweed is an excellent plant ally for any itchy skin complains such as eczema and psoriasis. It soothes and cools inflammation and promotes healing on sore skin great for burns and aching joints and muscles. I add it to pretty much all of my healing balm recipes.

Used as a poultice it draws out infection and has a beneficial soothing effect on rashes, stings and bites.

The juice from the crushed plants is said to make a good eyewash though I have never tried it that way as you would need a lot. I’d be inclined to make a tisane and leave it to cool rather than mashing it up and straining it.

Internal

This is where Chickweed really comes into it’s own; the soothing and cooling qualities make it good for inflammations such as IBS and clears heat in the gall bladder and liver thus improving their function.

It aids digestion and is recommended for weight loss (like most greens). Chickweed is a diuretic, clearing toxins from the body and helping with issues such as cystitis and inflammation of the kidneys.

You can also use it to treat mild fevers and is an expectorant (clearing mucus from the lungs). Taking it internally will also help with eczema and psoriasis as these ailments often start in the gut.

As you can see, Chickweed is a great tonic. To use, you could brew it up in a tea. It has a light pleasant green taste. Or, you could just, ya know, eat it 😉.

Magical Uses

Chickweed is sacred to the Moon. It enhances compassion and receptivity, cools tempers and supports our emotional selves. It is helpful for those who are too restrained; opening us up to opportunity, love and communication.

Add it to charms and medicine pouches to encourage others to be receptive and compassionate towards you. Drink in a tea to bring out those qualities in yourself or add to moon water (water charged under the full or new moon) to enhance its properties. You could bless your home or work space with this to encourage a compassionate heart and receptive mind.

So, to sum up: Chickweed, a compassionate giving little star flower, a pretty plant ally for those seeking cooling, soothing and healing, internally, externally and spiritually.

I imagine you’ll find it as enchanting as I do.

Happy foraging. Peace out witches ✌️

Love Kate xxx

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