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How to Manage Pests

Identification: Weed Photo Gallery

Common chickweed

Scientific name: Stellaria media (Pink Family: Caryophyllaceae)

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Life stages of Common chickweed mature plant in alfalfa seedling flowers stem with hairs seeds

Common chickweed is primarily a winter annual broadleaf in California, but in foggy coastal areas, it can survive year-round. Common chickweed is found throughout most of California, except in the Mojave Desert, up to 4300 feet (about 1300 m) and is especially common in lawns and landscaped areas. It inhabits agricultural land and other disturbed sites. It can harbor several viruses and other pests that affect a variety of vegetable crops. Many species of wildlife feed on its leaves and seeds.

Habitat

Yards, turf, gardens, landscaped areas, agronomic and vegetable crop fields, orchards, vineyards, grasslands, managed forests, nurseries, roadsides, and other disturbed places.

Seedling

Cotyeldons (seed leaves) are lance shaped to football shaped, hairless, have prominent midveins, taper to a point at the tip, and are about four times as long as they are wide. They have short stalks with sparse hairs. The first and next few leaf pairs are oval to football shaped with small points at their tips and have short stalks with a line of hairs down either side.

Mature plant

Common chickweed grows erect to prostrate and sometimes is matlike. Stems are mostly forked and have a line of hairs down either side. Leaves are broadly egg shaped, have a pointy tip, and are mostly hairless or have hairy margins at the base. The leaves are spaced evenly and are opposite to one another along the stem. Lower leaves are stalkless and smaller than the upper, stalked leaves. Mouseear Chickweed, Cerastium vulgatum, and sticky chickweed, Cerastium glomeratum, are very similar in appearance and growth habit, however, unlike common chickweed, both species have leaves that are moderately to densely covered with hairs.

Flower

Common chickweed blooms mostly from February to September, but under favorable conditions, flowering can take place year-round. The small, yet showy, flowers have what appear to be 10 petals, but are really five deeply–cut white petals. Flowers are produced in open clusters at the end of the stem.

Fruit

Fruit are tiny, non-fleshy, egg shaped and contain numerous minute seeds.

Seeds

The tiny seed is about 1/25 of an inch (1 mm) in diameter and is pale tan to pale reddish brown. Under magnification, small wartlike projections can be seen on the surface.

Reproduction

Common chickweed reproduces mostly from seed, but sometimes it reproduces by creeping stems that root from stem joints (nodes).

Related species/Similar looking plants

Mouseear chickweed
Sticky chickweed

More information


Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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