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Chickweed Means Spring


Chickweed
Chickweed

It has been an un-naturally warm winter here in Northern Delaware and my chickweed patch next to my driveway is in full growth.


Driveway Chickweed patch
Driveway Chickweed patch

Chickweed is one of the first green forages I like to find each year. After the months of winter Chickweed’s green goodness is a welcome addition to my diet with its fresh green minerally flavor. And unlike many of the other early Spring greens like Dandelion and dock greens, Chickweed is not bitter. Bitter is a good flavor to have after a winter of consuming heavier foods like meats and stored grains and beans, it’s a signal to the liver to produce bile to break down fats that we eat and to generally stimulate digestion. Chickweed however has a mild, mineral taste that is welcome and portends the salads of late Spring and summer to come.


Chickweed (stellaria media) comes out in the spring when the temp hits the low 50’s and may come out with Henbit and Creeping Charlie. Chickweed can be identified by the tiny white star shaped flowers it has and the line of hairs that grow on the stem and the LACK of latex when the stem is broken. You can see the hairs in the picture I took of my chickweed patch. Henbit is square stemmed and has purple flowers. It can also be eaten so there is not a poisoning problem if they get confused but they do taste different.


Chickweed (Stellaria media)
Chickweed (Stellaria media)

Chickweed is rich in fiber and antioxidants, saponins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, Iron, Zinc, potassium and other trace minerals and vitamins A and C. it is considered an astringent , vulnerary (wound healing) Diaphoretic (Sweat inducing) anti-inflammatory and prebiotic plant that may help with wound healing, reducing inflammation in the body via its antioxidants, reduce thickenings via it’s saponins and support kidney and bladder function via it’s diaphoretic capacity. There have even been studies on chickweed and its role in weight loss via its ability to saponify fats and inhibit some enzymes used in fat and carbohydrate digestion, but these studies were inconclusive.


I like to eat chickweed in salads as soon as she is big enough to pick. I cut the plant from the top like I’m giving her a haircut down to the small leaves. Then I will cut the bunch into smaller pieces to toss into a store bought or wild salad. Her mild taste and mineral flavor is a nice contrast to the somewhat bland flavors in store bought salad greens and if I am lucky enough to have other wild greens available like dandelion leaves or dock leaves chickweed can add bulk without adding more bitter flavors.


Another favorite way to eat chickweed of mine is in pesto! Wild greens pestos are great fun to make and a nutritional powerhouse as well. Here is a chickweed pesto I made a few years back in Texas. To make my pesto I took about 3 good fistfuls of chickweed, 4 cloves of garlic, a small handful of walnuts and olive oil and put it all in my food processor and pureed it up, fiddling with the proportions until I got a taste I liked. I like my pestos very garlicy. Then I tossed some cooked shrimp with the paste and ate like a Queen. You could toss this on pasta or use as a sauce for cooked chicken or as a flavoring for a bean soup. Anywhere you might use a basil pesto would be good.


Chickweed pesto
Chickweed pesto


Shrimp with chickweed pesto
Shrimp with chickweed pesto


Chickweed tincture has been used to help the body dissolve thickenings like cysts on ovaries and her juice may even dissolve skin warts. Doses of 20-90 drops of tincture a day may also help those lose weight if used consistently. Chickweed tincture is also helpful to help cool off hot situations like fevers and infections and menopausal hot flashes.


Chickweed Tincture
Chickweed Tincture

Chickweed also is used as a poultice to draw out splinters and infections in wounds and boils and is said to be helpful for soothing conjunctivitis. For this, take fresh plant and place in a cloth and mash until moist then apply the cloth packet on the effected part until the part feels warmish. If using on eyes, please keep them closed during application. For bug bites, and minor wounds, an oil can be made from fresh chickweed and applied to the wound.


Look around you and you may find chickweed growing nearby. Green Blessings are all around us if we take the time to notice.


The information presented is provided for informational purposes only. It is not meant to substitute for medical advice or diagnosis provided by your physician or other medical professional. If you have, or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your physician or health care provider.


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