Stellaria media (L.) Vill. - Chickweed

Stellaria media plant

Family - Caryophyllaceae

Stems - To 50cm long(20-30cm tall), decumbent, rooting at lower nodes, herbaceous, somewhat succulent, mostly glabrous but with a single longitudinal line of pubescence. Pubescence hirsute to tomentose.

Stellaria media stemStem.

Stellaria media stemElastic vascular tissue of stem.

Leaves - Opposite, ovate(sometimes truncate at base), short-mucronate, petiolate. Blades to +2cm wide, +2cm long, glabrous, green above, lighter green below, entire. Petiole to +2cm long, sometimes winged, pubescent.

Inflorescence - Single flowers from leaf axils. Also terminal cymes of +3 flowers. Peduncles 1-3cm long, pubescent.

Flowers - Corolla white, rotate, 5-6mm broad. Petals 5, deeply notched and appearing as 10, glabrous, to 2mm long, free. Petal lobes oblong. Stamens typically 3-5, attached at base of ovary, alternating with petals. Styles 3, spreading. Sepals 5, free, to 5mm long, pubescent with glandular-tipped hairs, ovate-lanceolate, green. Capsules to +6mm long, 4mm wide, glabrous, with +/-15 seeds. Seeds 1mm in diameter, tuberculate, rotund.

Stellaria media flowerFlower close-up.

Stellaria media flowerAgain.

Flowering - Typically March - November, but can flower all year.

Habitat - Moist shaded locations.

Origin - Native to Eurasia.

Other info. - This plant has spread rapidly throughout most of the U.S. and the Americas. The calyx is persistent and the fruits stick to clothing, hair and skin and are thus carried everywhere. The plant can be eaten but has a rank smell when first picked (at least to me).
If the stem is carefully bent side-to-side and then pulled apart, the elastic vascular tissue can be seen. This is a good way to help identify the plant.

Photographs taken in Gainesville, FL., 2-16-03, and in Auburn, AL., 3-19-05.


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