Ever since I’ve been a wild food forager, I’ve always known about chickweed, but haven’t really come in contact with it all that much. This is strange, because chickweed is really quite a common and abundant plant! It’s not that I had never seen it, I know that I’ve pointed it out on a few occasions, but I think that more often than not it was simply overlooked. It is a small and unassuming plant, that’s for sure. Thankfully, foraging for chickweed is very easy once you know what to look for. You’ll be seeing it everywhere, maybe even in your own backyard!
Chickweed is a common plant that comes up in late winter or early spring. It is an annual plant that readily self sows, making it come back year after year. It will often grow in large patches, which is part of why it is considered a weed. I was happy to discover this large chickweed patch in our front yard!
Chickweed has small leaves and grows in somewhat of a tangled mat. It has small, white, star shaped flowers with five petals, each one with two lobes. A line of fine hairs runs down the stem.
Chickweed is also great for adding into smoothies or turning into a wild weed pesto. Since it usually doesn’t stick around for the hot summer months, you can even blend it up and freeze it for later use.
It is a favorite plant of chickens as well, which is where it got its name!
Chickweed is also an amazing medicinal plant. It contains saponins, which makes it cooling and soothing for the skin. It’s perfect for making into an herbal salve to use on rashes, bug bites, or otherwise dry or itchy skin.
If you can’t find any chickweed, or if it’s the wrong season, you can always purchase some dried from Mountain Rose Herbs (my favorite place to get high quality, organic herbs).
Here are some more great posts about chickweed for further reading:
- Using Chickweed for Food and Medicine from Homespun Seasonal Living
- Chickweed: A Tender, Tasty Green from Backyard Forager
- Chickweed: Stellaria media from Edible Wild Food
Have you ever gone foraging for chickweed? What is your favorite way to utilize it?