Common chickweed (Stellaria media) is a matted, herbaceous, winter
annual broadleaf plant. Chickweed is a prolific spring weed as it thrives
under cool, wet conditions. It rarely tolerates hot, dry conditions that
occur in late spring or early summer. Other common names for chickweed include
starweed, winterweed, satin flower and tongue grass.
Chickweed is more regarded as a weed than as a useful plant, but has a place in folk medicine as a remedy for asthma, constipation, cough, fever and various other ailments. The seed of chickweed is a source of food for birds.
Description. Common chickweed develops prostrate, tender, freely branching stems that root at nodes; opposite, smooth, oval or elliptic leaves, lower leaves with long petioles, upper leaves sessile; shallow, fibrous and very frail roots; flowers are solitary or in small clusters at ends of stems, flower stalks fragile, petals white and seeds are produced in oval, 5-segmented capsule, seeds are circular, flattened and reddish-brown in color. Plants form a thick mat of succulent or tender vegetation in the early spring that is not eradicated by close mowing.
Control. Common chickweed is effectively controlled by timely applications of preemerge herbicides such as simazine, dithiopyr, dacthal, oryzalin, pendimethalin and isoxaben. Preemerge applications should be made in early fall prior to the emergence of chickweed.
Postemerge control of chickweed during winter and early spring can be achieved with products containing dicamba, dichlorprop and triclopyr. The latter product is only labelled for use on cool season turfgrasses such as tall fescue, bluegrass and perennial ryegrass.