The Glories of Chickweed

Chickweed: uses, nutrition, cultivation, and more

Stellaria media, Stellaria pubera

 

At Wild Abundance, we love chickweed.  Learn more about its fantastic uses below, or check out our classes where you can meet the plant person, harvest it, eat it, and work with it.  Check out our classes that explore the glories of chickweed: Wild Edibles Foraging Adventure, the Garden School, and the Ancestral Foods cooking class.

Family: Caryophyllaceae/Pink family

Harvest time: spring and fall

Uses: food, medicine

Medicinal Uses: Laxative, Demulcent, Refrigerant, Anti-Inflammatory.

A poultice of chickweed can be especially useful topically for inflammation and abscesses

Nutritional qualities:

Chickweed contains vitamins A, D, B complex, C, rutin, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, sodium, copper, and silica.

Habitat and Cultivation tips:

I willed this fabulous plant into my garden, now it comes up with my winter cover crops without fail, and flourishes under my row cover with my kale and in my paths, which are protected by raised beds to their sides.
It is possible to transplant this wonderful weed from one garden to another. It is a funny thing to desire a weed in a garden so very much, but chickweed is a very well-behaved and generous weed. It doesn’t seem to compete with my cultivated plants, and it yields a tremendous amount of healthy food.
Ethnobotanical-history and Harvesting recommendations:

There are many species of this awesome plant.  The one that I use the most, Common Chickweed (Stellaria media) is native to Europe, but grows virtually everywhere I visit now. It has a long history of use as a nutritious edible green by both humans and animals. The ancient Greeks even wrote about using chickweed, and it was also commonly used in ancient Ireland.i
Star chickweed (S. pubera) is Native to our rich cove forests, and it is perhaps even tastier, and more choice than the common variety. During many a wild food hike that I have lead, we have feasted upon heaps of salad, primarily composed of star chickweed.

Chickweed Salad:

6 c leafy (as opposed to stemmy) herb, rinsed, and chopped very finely (¼ inch lengths) across the stem

1-2 c sweetly ripe autumn olives, redbud flowers, locust flowers, or dried cranberries

½ c queso fresco or soft goat cheese

¼-3/4 c black walnut pieces, roasted sunflower seeds, or soaked and roasted pecans

Dressing:

1/3 c fresh basil or monarda spp (bee balm, etc) leaves

1 c olive oil

1/8 c honey

1 ½ t salt

Chickweed Pesto:

6 c packed fresh herb

5-20 cloves garlic (depending on size and intensity of garlic clove and your personal taste)

1 c olive oil

1 T sea salt

1 c toasted black walnuts, sunflower seeds, english walnuts, or pecans

zest from 1 lemon (make sure it is organic because you are using the skin)
Harvest chickweed with knife to avoid dirt, rinse and swing to dry.
Make pesto in batches; add half of olive oil first to food processor or blender, then add garlic, then salt, and finally the greens.
Eat fresh, store at room temp for up to a week, or freeze for up to 4 months.
Freeze in ice-cube trays, and empty into ziploc bags so that you can defrost just the right amount of pesto.