Alternative common names:
Bindweed, common chickweed, satin flower, stitchwort, white bird’s eye, winter weed.
Chickweed occurs either as an annual species or as a short-lived perennial. It produces several generations a year, each one flowering after just five weeks of growth. It can remain green and often stays in flower throughout winter. A single plant can produce about 2 500 red-brown seeds, which can remain viable in the soil for 25-40 years.
Where does this species come from?Europe.
What is its invasive status in South Africa?NEMBA Category 1a on Prince Edward Island and 1b on Marion Island. It is not listed on the mainland or other off-shore islands.
Where in South Africa is it a problem?Gauteng and Cape Town.
How does it spread?Seeds are transported by horses, cattle, pigs, antelope, sparrows, quail and gulls.
Why is it a problem?
Over-consumption may lead to slightly toxic effects, such as diarrhoea and other digestive upsets. Contact with the plant may cause allergic dermatitis in some people.
What does it look like?
Leaves: Leaves are opposite, glabrous, bright green and up to 40mm long and 20mm wide.
Flowers: The flowers are small and star-like, with white petals about 3-4mm long, slightly shorter than the sepals.
Fruit/seeds: The capsule is membranous and 5mm long, splitting into five valves and containing few seeds. The seeds are 1mm across, circular, deeply notched and densely wrinkled.
Does the plant have any uses?
It is eaten as a vegetable. It was also used for medicine.