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Green Roof Plant Blog

Chickweed - The Jack of All Trades

Monday, November 11, 2013

 

Small hairs cover the intertwined stems, shooting off oval leaves and small white flowers. The scientific name, Stellaria media, came about to describe the tiny star-shaped flowers. Mainly a low-growing, matted specimen, this plant makes for some fantastic ground cover. It enjoys full sun exposure, but will also tolerate a partly shaded space.

Chickens are a huge fan of chickweed, which is where this herb has acquired its common name. Although it has many uses, chickweed is still considered a pest in many gardens. Flourishing in various habitats, chickweed can be found in tropical climates such as Hawaii all the way to arctic climates such as Greenland. There is hardly a part of the world in which chickweed has not been found! 

 

Chickweed has been used in a variety of ways for centuries, stretching all the way back to the stone age. Not only is it edible, but also has medicinal uses. All parts of the plant make for great green addition to any salad or sandwich with a light taste similar to that of spinach. Chickweed is an excellent source of many vitamins including A, C & D, along with calcium, iron, zinc, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, silica and copper. Tea is a popular choice of chickweed consumption as well. A finely chopped chickweed can be applied to irritated skin to smooth eczema, cuts, minor burns or rashes.

If found on an extensive green roof, it is rarely invasive and can be tolerated to create more biodiversity. Their shallow root system prevents erosion of the growing media and their short life cycle can add helpful organic components for other perennial plants. If this amazing survivor is not wanted it can be easily hand weeded before it flowers.

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