| Feb 2006
Giant Chickweed is a perennial found throughout eastern United States. A related species, Common Chickweed is an annual alien that has spread throughout temperate and arctic regions. Chickweed flowers have five white petals with reddish anthers. The five sepals are green. Each petal is so deeply notched that it appears to be two, giving the flower a look of 10 petals. Giant Chickweed has petals that are longer than the sepals.
Common Chickweed (Stellaria media) has petals that are shorter than the sepals. The leaves are opposite, with a short stem. Authorities report that chickweed is edible and also has health benefits, having many vitamins and minerals. They can be eaten as salads or after cooking. They can also be dried and preserved for later use. As a medicine, Chickweed has been used as a cure for about every problem imaginable, even obesity. After describing all the virtues of internal use of chickweed, authorities mention that it can be toxic if ingested in large quantities. The Stellaria genus is generally considered a weed. Chickweed "goes to sleep" at night. meaning that at night the leaves fold over the buds and new shoots. As for the name, chickens and other birds do like both the plant and the seeds.