Chickweed is one of the few wild edible greens available in the coldest part of winter. Chickweed, Stellaria media, is a tasty and ubiquitous salad herb you’ll find growing in many sidewalk planters and in wilderness areas, too. It’s a delicate green, usually fewer than five or six inches tall. The flavor is very mild and pleasant, and if anything, mostly tastes like water.
You can identify chickweed by the very fine line of peach fuzz style hair that grows up along the stem and switches sides at each leaf juncture. It looks a bit like a Chinese staircase twirling around, and when it blooms with tiny white star-shaped flowers, I like to think of it as a stairway to the stars. The Latin name Stellaria hints at this, too.
Medicinally, chickweed has a number of actions. If applied externally in a salve or simply mashed up as a poultice, it’s cooling and soothing for skin, very helpful for itching and irritation. Internally, chickweed is a mild diuretic, moving water through the body, helping with detoxification of the lymphatic system, and is known to be a remedy for rheumatism.
This is a great green to eat raw. It can be preserved using vinegar, creating a salad dressing, or glycerine, if you wanted to take it as a tincture. (Related post: How to Make A Glycerin Tincture).
From a spiritual perspective, the essence of this plant comes across to me as sweet, gentle, playful and child-like. While many plants do have male or female energy in them, this one is androgynous. It has a receptivity inherent to it — very yin. Chickweed would be a great plant ally for someone who is working on developing intuition, balancing a too-fiery nature, or wanting to cultivate gentleness.
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