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Biology

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Chickweed occurs either as an annual species or as a short-lived perennial (3), and produces several generations a year, each one flowering after just 5 weeks of growth (1). It can remain green and often in flower throughout winter (4). The flowers are visited by many small flies and bees (2). A single plant may produce around 2,500 reddish-brown seeds, which can remain viable in the soil for 25-40 years (1). Common chickweeds is highly prized as a food for poultry and cage-birds, and even for humans in small quantities as a vegetable of stir-fries and salads (4).
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Conservation

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Not relevant.
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Description

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Common chickweed is a very common weed (3). It is extremely variable in its appearance, but generally it has a very slender tap root and greatly branching leafy stems, which lie along the ground (2). The lower leaves vary in size from 3 to 20 mm in length, they are oval in shape and have long stalks; the upper leaves tend to be larger (up to 25 mm in length) and lack stalks. Many small, white flowers are produced; the stamens have reddish-violet anthers (2).
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Habitat

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Found in a wide variety of disturbed habitats, particularly in nutrient-rich areas (3). It is a notorious weed of gardens and cultivated areas, and may also occur on walls, new plantations, sewage works and manure heaps, and is a typical feature of coastal strand-lines (3). It has been found in pre-Neolithic deposits, and so it is not dependent on human disturbance for survival (1).
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Range

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Widespread and common throughout Britain, common chickweed is a cosmopolitan species (2); it has become naturalised in North America, and is now found around the world (3).
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Status

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Extremely common and widespread (3).
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Threats

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This species is not threatened.
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Comments

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Stellaria media, now a cosmopolitan weed, is a very polymorphic species, varying in size, habit, pubescence, petal length, stamen number, and seed size and surface detail.

The Stellaria media complex consists of three very similar and closely related species, S. media, S. neglecta, and S. pallida. They can almost always be distinguished by the characters given in the key, but in a few doubtful cases a chromosome count is desirable for positive identification. The problem arises from the considerable phenotypic variation which is displayed by S. media, and to a lesser extent by S. pallida. There is no evidence for gene exchange between these species. Stellaria pallida is autogamous and sometimes cleistogamous; S. media is both autogamous and occasionally cross-pollinated by flies; S. neglecta is usually cross-pollinated by flies but is self-compatible.

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Flora of North America Vol. 5 in eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden. Accessed Nov 12, 2008.
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Description

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Plants annual or winter annual, green, with slender taproot. Stems decumbent or ascending, diffusely branched, 4-sided, 5-40 cm, with single line of hairs along each internode. Leaves petiolate (proximal) or ± sessile (distal); blade usually green, ovate to broadly elliptic, 0.5-4 cm × 2-20 mm, base round to cuneate, margins entire, apex acute or shortly acuminate, ± glabrous or ciliate at base. Inflorescences terminal, 5-many-flowered cymes; bracts ovate and shortly acuminate to lanceolate-acute, 1-40 mm, herbaceous. Pedicels ascending, usually straight, deflexed at base in fruit, 3-40 mm, usually with line of hairs. Flowers 2-5 mm diam.; sepals 5, with obscure midrib, ovate-lanceolate, 4.5-5(-6) mm, margins narrow, scarious, apex obtuse, usually glandular-hairy; petals absent or 5, 1-4 mm, shorter than to equaling sepals; stamens 3-5(-8); anthers red-violet; styles 3, outwardly curved, becoming curled, 0.5-1 mm. Capsules green to straw colored, ovoid-oblong, 3-5 mm, somewhat longer than sepals, apex obtuse, opening by 6 valves; carpophore absent. Seeds reddish brown, broadly reniform to round, 0.9-1.3 mm diam., with obtuse, round, or flat-topped (broader than tall) tubercles. 2n = 40, 42, 44.
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Flora of North America Vol. 5 in eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden. Accessed Nov 12, 2008.
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Description

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Herbs annual, biennial, or perennial. Stems decumbent or ascending, pale purplish, 10--30 cm tall, sparsely branched at base, with 1(or 2) lines of hairs. Basal leaves long petiolate, distal leaves sessile or shortly petiolate; leaf blade broadly ovate to ovate-orbicular, 0.8--2.5 × (0.5--)1--1.5 cm, base narrowed or cordate, apex acuminate or acute. Flowers in sparse terminal or axillary cymes. Pedicel 0.7--1.4 cm, elongate and nodding after anthesis, slender, with 1 line of hairs. Sepals 5, ovate-lanceolate or ovate-oblong, ca. 2--2.5 or 4 mm, outside glandular pubescent, margin broadly membranous, apex slightly obtuse or nearly rounded. Petals oblong, shorter than or subequaling sepals, 2-cleft nearly to base; lobes nearly linear. Stamens 3--5, shorter than petals. Styles 3, linear. Capsule ovoid, slightly longer than persistent sepals, 6-valved. Seeds numerous, red-brown, ovoid to compressed globose, 1--1.2 mm in diam., semiglobose-tuberculate or curved reticulate. Fl. Jun--Jul, fr. Jul--Aug. 2n = 40, 42, 44.
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Flora of China Vol. 6: 15 in eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden. Accessed Nov 12, 2008.
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Wu Zhengyi, Peter H. Raven & Hong Deyuan
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Distribution

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introduced; Greenland; St. Pierre and Miquelon; Alta., B.C., Man., N.B., Nfld. and Labr., N.W.T., N.S., Ont., P.E.I., Que., Sask., Yukon; Ala., Alaska, Ariz., Ark., Calif., Colo., Conn., Del., D.C., Fla., Ga., Idaho, Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kans., Ky., La., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Mont., Nebr., Nev., N.H., N.J., N.Mex., N.Y., N.C., N.Dak., Ohio, Okla., Oreg., Pa., R.I., S.C., S.Dak., Tenn., Tex., Utah, Vt., Va., Wash., W.Va., Wis., Wyo.; Europe.
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Flora of North America Vol. 5 in eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden. Accessed Nov 12, 2008.
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Flowering/Fruiting

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Flowering year-round where climatic conditions permit.
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Flora of North America Vol. 5 in eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden. Accessed Nov 12, 2008.
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Habitat

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Cultivated ground, waste places, open woodlands; 0-2500m.
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Flora of North America Vol. 5 in eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden. Accessed Nov 12, 2008.
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Habitat & Distribution

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Fields. Anhui, Fujian, Gansu, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Jilin, Liaoning, Nei Mongol, Ningxia, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanxi, Sichuan, Taiwan, Xizang, Yunnan, Zhejiang [Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Japan, Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Sikkim; Europe].
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Flora of China Vol. 6: 15 in eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden. Accessed Nov 12, 2008.
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Synonym

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Alsine media Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 272. 1753; Stellaria apetala Ucria ex Roemer; S. media var. procera Klatt & Richter
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Description

provided by Flora of Zimbabwe
Annual herb with decumbent or ascending stems, 5-40 cm. Lower leaves: petiole c.1.5 cm; lamina c.1 × 1 cm, ovate; base sometimes ± cordate; upper ± sessile, usually larger, ovate or broadly elliptic. Petals slightly shorter than the sepals, white; apex deeply 2-fid, so that there almost appears to be 10 petals rather than 5.
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Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T. and Ballings, P. (2002-2014). Stellaria media (L.) Vill. Flora of Zimbabwe website. Accessed 28 August 2014 at http://www.zimbabweflora.co.zw/speciesdata/species.php?species_id=123250
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Frequency

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Locally common in the E Highlands.
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Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T. and Ballings, P. (2002-2014). Stellaria media (L.) Vill. Flora of Zimbabwe website. Accessed 28 August 2014 at http://www.zimbabweflora.co.zw/speciesdata/species.php?species_id=123250
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Worldwide distribution

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A cosmopolitan weed
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Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T. and Ballings, P. (2002-2014). Stellaria media (L.) Vill. Flora of Zimbabwe website. Accessed 28 August 2014 at http://www.zimbabweflora.co.zw/speciesdata/species.php?species_id=123250
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Stellaria media

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 src=
Stellaria media - MHNT

Stellaria media, chickweed, is an annual and perennial flowering plant in the family Caryophyllaceae.[1] It is native to Eurasia and naturalized throughout the world. This species is used as a cooling herbal remedy, and grown as a vegetable crop and ground cover for both human and poultry consumption. It is sometimes called common chickweed to distinguish it from other plants called chickweed. Other common names include chickenwort, craches, maruns, and winterweed. The plant germinates in autumn or late winter, then forms large mats of foliage.

Description

This species is an annual in colder climates, becoming evergreen and perennial in warmer zones,[2] with weak slender stems, up to 40 cm (16 inches). Plants are sparsely hairy. Stellaria media has one line of fine hairs on the stem.[3]:488 The leaves are oval and opposite, the lower ones with stalks. Flowers are white and small with five very deeply lobed petals. Some plants have no petals. There are usually three stamens and three styles.[4] The flowers quickly form capsules. Plants may have flowers and capsules at the same time.

Plants in the genus Cerastium are very similar in appearance to those of Stellaria, and are in the same family (Caryophyllaceae) but have hairs uniformly covering their stems.[3]

Distribution

Stellaria media is widespread in Asia, Europe, North America, and other parts of the world. There are several closely related plants referred to as chickweed, but which lack the culinary properties of plants in the genus Stellaria.

Habitat

Stellaria media is common in lawns, meadows, waste places, and open areas.[5][6]

Ecology

The larvae of the European moth yellow shell (Camptogramma bilineata), of North American moths pale-banded dart (Agnorisma badinodis) or dusky cutworm (Agrotis venerabilis), or North American butterfly dainty sulphur (Nathalis iole) all feed on chickweed. It is susceptible to downy mildew caused by the oomycete species Peronospora alsinearum.[7]

Growth

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Whole plant

In both Europe and North America this plant is common in gardens,[8] fields, and disturbed grounds where it grows as a ground cover.

Uses

As food

Stellaria media is edible and nutritious, and is used as a leaf vegetable, often raw in salads.[9] It is one of the ingredients of the symbolic dish consumed in the Japanese spring-time festival, Nanakusa-no-sekku. Some varieties or similar species may be too fibrous to eat.[10]

It is also eaten by chickens, wild birds, and mountain sheep.[11][12]

Toxicity

Stellaria media contains plant chemicals known as saponins, which can be toxic to some species (notably fish). It is unlikely that most land animals will be affected, as the quantities involved are large. However, it is not advised for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.[13]

S. media should also not be confused with the mildly toxic Euphorbia.[14]

In folk medicine

The plant has medicinal properties and is used in folk medicine. It has been used as a remedy to treat itchy skin conditions and pulmonary diseases.[15] 17th-century herbalist John Gerard recommended it as a remedy for mange. Modern herbalists prescribe it for iron-deficiency anemia (for its high iron content), as well as for skin diseases, bronchitis, rheumatic pains, arthritis, and period pain.[16] Not all of these uses are supported by scientific evidence.[17] The plant was used by the Ainu for treating bruises and aching bones. Stems were steeped in hot water before being applied externally to affected areas.[18]

Chemistry

The anthraquinones emodin, parietin (physcion) and questin, the flavonoid kaempferol-3,7-O-α-L-dirhamnoside, the phytosterols β-sitosterol and daucosterol, and the fatty alcohol 1-hexacosanol can be found in S. media.[19] Other flavonoid constituents are apigenin 6-C-beta-D-galactopyranosyl-8-C-alpha-L-arabinopyranoside, apigenin 6-C-alpha-L-arabinopyranosyl-8-C-beta-D-galactopyranoside, apigenin 6-C-beta-D-galactopyranosyl-8-C-beta-L-arabinopyranoside, apigenin 6-C-beta-D-glucopyranosyl-8-C-beta-D-galactopyranoside, apigenin 6, 8-di-C-alpha-L-arabinopyranoside.[20] The plant also contains triterpenoid saponins[21][22] of the hydroxylated oleanolic acid type.[23] Proanthocyanidins are present in the testa of seeds.[24]

Etymology

Stellaria is derived from the word 'stellar' meaning 'star', which is a reference to the shape of its flowers. Media is derived from Latin and means 'between', 'intermediate', or 'mid-sized'.[25]

See also

References

  1. ^ Fernald, M. L. 1950. “Gray's Manual of Botany”. Eight Edition. American Book Company, New York, NY. 1632 pp.
  2. ^ "Stellaria media". RHS. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  3. ^ a b Stace, C. A. (2019). New Flora of the British Isles (Fourth ed.). Middlewood Green, Suffolk, U.K.: C & M Floristics. ISBN 978-1-5272-2630-2.
  4. ^ Parnell, J. and Curtis, T. 2012. Webb's An Irish Flora. Cork University Press. ISBN 978-185918-4783
  5. ^ Hackney, P. (ed) 1992. Stewart and Corry's Flora of the North-east of Ireland. Institute of Irish Studies, The Queen's University of Belfast. ISBN 0-85389-446-9(HB)
  6. ^ Webb, D.A. Parnell, J. and Doogue, D. 1996. An Irish Flora. Dundalgan Press (W.Tempest) Ltd. ISBN 0-85221-131-7
  7. ^ Constantinescu, O. (1991). "An annotated list of Peronospora names". Thunbergia. 15.
  8. ^ Neltje, Blanchan (2005). Wild Flowers Worth Knowing. Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation.
  9. ^ Stellaria media at Plants for a Future
  10. ^ Benoliel, Doug (2011). Northwest Foraging: The Classic Guide to Edible Plants of the Pacific Northwest (Rev. and updated ed.). Seattle, WA: Skipstone. p. 63. ISBN 978-1-59485-366-1. OCLC 668195076.
  11. ^ Niering, William A.; Olmstead, Nancy C. (1985) [1979]. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers, Eastern Region. Knopf. p. 462. ISBN 0-394-50432-1.
  12. ^ Angier, Bradford (1974). Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books. p. 62. ISBN 0-8117-0616-8. OCLC 799792.
  13. ^ "Stellaria media". PFAF.org. Plants for a future. Retrieved 28 April 2021.
  14. ^ Nyerges, Christopher (2016). Foraging Wild Edible Plants of North America: More than 150 Delicious Recipes Using Nature's Edibles. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 47. ISBN 978-1-4930-1499-6.
  15. ^ Hensel, Wolfgang (2008). Medicinal plants of Britain and Europe. London: A&C Black. ISBN 9781408101544.
  16. ^ Wiest, Renee. "Chickweed". hartonweb.com. Good Health Herbs. Retrieved 15 Dec 2015.
  17. ^ Howard, Michael (1987). Traditional folk remedies : a comprehensive herbal. London: Century. p. 119. ISBN 0-7126-1731-0.
  18. ^ Batchelor, J. and Miyabe, K. (n.d.). Ainu economic plants. 1st ed. 1893.
  19. ^ Studies on the Chemical Constituents From Stellaria media (II). Huang Yuan, Dong Qi, Qiao Shan-Yi, Pharmaceutical Journal of Chinese People's Liberation Army, 2007-03 (abstract) (Article in Chinese)
  20. ^ Dong, Q; Huang, Y; Qiao, SY (2007). "Studies on chemical constituents from stellaria media. I". Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi = Zhongguo Zhongyao Zazhi = China Journal of Chinese Materia Medica (in Chinese). 32 (11): 1048–51. PMID 17672340.
  21. ^ Hu, Y.M.; Wang, H.; Ye, W.C.; Qian, L. (2009). "New triterpenoid fromStellaria media(L.) Cyr". Natural Product Research. 23 (14): 1274–8. doi:10.1080/14786410701642532. PMID 19735039. S2CID 34873907.
  22. ^ Weng, A; Thakur, M; Beceren-Braun, F; Gilabert-Oriol, R; Boettger, S; Melzig, MF; Fuchs, H (2012). "Synergistic interaction of triterpenoid saponins and plant protein toxins". Planta Medica. 78 (11). doi:10.1055/s-0032-1320271.
  23. ^ Böttger, Stefan; Melzig, Matthias F. (2011). "Triterpenoid saponins of the Caryophyllaceae and Illecebraceae family". Phytochemistry Letters. 4 (2): 59. doi:10.1016/j.phytol.2010.08.003.
  24. ^ Bittrich, V.; Amaral, Maria Do Carmo E. (1991). "Proanthocyanidins in the testa of centrospermous seeds". Biochemical Systematics and Ecology. 19 (4): 319. doi:10.1016/0305-1978(91)90020-Z.
  25. ^ Gledhill, David (2008). "The Names of Plants". Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521866453 (hardback), ISBN 9780521685535 (paperback). pp 253, 361
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Stellaria media: Brief Summary

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 src= Stellaria media - MHNT

Stellaria media, chickweed, is an annual and perennial flowering plant in the family Caryophyllaceae. It is native to Eurasia and naturalized throughout the world. This species is used as a cooling herbal remedy, and grown as a vegetable crop and ground cover for both human and poultry consumption. It is sometimes called common chickweed to distinguish it from other plants called chickweed. Other common names include chickenwort, craches, maruns, and winterweed. The plant germinates in autumn or late winter, then forms large mats of foliage.

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