It’s time to introduce another Herb of the Month!
This month’s herb is another common backyard weed, but not so notorious as the dandelion. In fact, for years I never even knew this plant existed.
Please allow me to introduce to you chickweed.
Once I learned what chickweed looks like, I realized that it grows all over our yard. It sprouts happily in the spaces between plants, it loves to spring up in our compost bin, and I frequently see it thriving where our yard meets the field behind our house.
Knowing that chickweed has many uses in the herbal medicine chest and in the kitchen makes this plant a welcomed weed to find.
Let’s take a look at chickweed!
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Chickweed is a tender, sprawling plant that forms mats close to the ground and will also send up taller stems up to 6 inches or so. The leaves grow up the bendable stems in opposite fashion all along the stem. At the end of the stems are very small white flowers made of 5 petals. Each petal is split down the center, giving the appearance of 10 slim petals. The stem has tiny white hairs and the leaves are smooth and toothless.
The aerial, or above ground, parts of chickweed are used in herbalism and in the kitchen.
Actions in the Body
- Chickweed is a demulcent, which means that it is soothing to mucous membranes when used internally.
- When used externally, chickweed is a soothing emollient.
- It has vulnerary, or wound-healing properties.
- It is a nutrient herb, providing multiple vitamins and minerals in abundance.
Chickweed can be used in any recipe where spinach or lettuce is called for. It is an excellent addition to soups, casseroles, and egg dishes when chopped and can be added raw to salads. It has a mild, green flavor similar to spinach.
An infusion of chickweed can be made with 2 teaspoons of dried herb and 1 cup of freshly boiled water. Allow it to steep for 10 minutes, then drink with honey to taste for a soothing, nutritious beverage.
The dried herb can be infused into an oil to be used as is or for the base of balms and salves for its emollient properties.
Fresh or dried plant matter can be placed in a large muslin tea bag and added to hot bath water to ease irritated skin. One cup fresh or 1/2 cup dried herb can be used.
There are no safety considerations with chickweed. It is safe for children and pregnant or breastfeeding women.
As always, anytime you might be foraging for wild foods and herbs, it is crucial that you be certain that the plant matter has not been sprayed with pesticides.
Did you know that chickweed is so beneficial? Do you have it in your yard?
Brill, Steve. Wild Edibles iPhone app. WinterRoot, LLC.
Hawkins, Jessie. Botanical Medicine in the Home. Vintage Remedies, Franklin, Tennessee. 2013. (found here).
Hoffman, David. Medicinal Herbalism. Healing Arts Press, Rochester, Vermont. 2003. (found here).