Latin: Stellaria media

Other names: Common chickweed, starweed, satin flower

Family: Caryophyllaceae

Chickweed is a prevalent weed found in the United Kingdom that belongs to the pink family (Caryophyllaceae). It is also known as common chickweed, starweed, or satin flower. This weed can be identified by its small white flowers, paired leaves, and characteristic growth habit.

Chickweed forms low-growing mats, with prostrate stems that can reach lengths of up to 30 centimeters. It can be found in various habitats, in both arable and grassland settings. 

Identifying Chickweed

Chickweed has several distinguishing features that help differentiate it from other similar-looking plants. The leaves of chickweed are opposite, meaning they grow in pairs along the stem. They are oval or egg-shaped, with a pointed tip and a smooth margin.

The flowers of chickweed are small and white, with five deeply lobed petals. The petals are deeply split, giving the appearance of ten petals. The flowers are borne on slender stalks and can appear throughout the year, but are most commonly seen from spring to autumn.

Chickweed in cereal crop

weeds smothering an unsprayed wheat crop in spring

The Challenges of Chickweed

Chickweeds ability to spread rapidly and form dense mats can crowd out desirable crops and plants, leading to reduced growth and vigour. Chickweed also has the potential to produce a large number of seeds, contributing to ongoing infestations.

The weed’s ability to germinate and grow in cool, moist conditions allows it to thrive in the UK’s climate. Its presence can be particularly troublesome in agricultural crops, where it competes for resources. Controlling chickweed is important to maintain the health and aesthetics of pastures as well as to prevent yield losses in agricultural settings.

Managing Chickweed (and ALS resistance) 

In cases where chickweed has become widespread, herbicides labeled for broadleaf weed control can be used. However, due to ALS resistance in some Chickweeds, it is highly important to use effective mixes of more than on mode of action for control. For example a SU herbicide like Paramount Max along with a phenoxy herbicide such as Compitox Plus.