Family: Caryophyllaceae (Pink Family)
Duration and Habit: Annual, Perennial Herb
Common chickweed is an annual, low-growing herb native to Europe. Stems are decumbent, to 19.7 in. (50 cm) long with a longitudinal line of hairs. Leaves are opposite, oval, to 0.8 in. (2 cm) long and pointed at the tip. Older leaves are petiolate. Flowering occurs in early spring when small, white flowers develop in the leaf axils or in terminal clusters. Flowers have 5 cleft petals, therefore appearing that there are 10. Fruits are very small and are covered by extremely hairy calyces.
Native Lookalikes: Currently no information available, or there are no native species that could be confused with Common chickweed.
Ecological Threat: Common chickweed is able to create dense mats of shoots up to 12 inches long, shading young seedlings of other plants. It invades, spreads, and out-competes other spring annuals. Common chickweed is reported to contain poisonous glycosides and high nitrate levels.
Biology & Spread: Seed output can be from 600 to 15,000 per plant. It reproduces vegetatively through a fibrous root system and by seeds.
U.S. Habitat: Common chickweed found in a wide variety of habitats and soil textures. Soil pH ranges from 4.8 to 7.3. It prefers soil with high level of nitrogen supply. It can readily tolerate very low temperatures, and can even flower and fruit under a snow cover at temperatures as low as -16° F. It is sensitive to drought. It is found along disturbed lands, cultivated fields, waste places, trails, roadsides, forest, and gardens.
U.S. Nativity: Introduced to U.S.
Native Origin: Probably southern Europe (NatureServe Explorer)
U.S. Present: AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY
Distribution: Throughout most of North America, except Arctic islands.
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Manual- Hand pull or dig; remove entire plant and root; dispose of all plant parts because plant shoots have the ability to re-root.
Chemical- It can be effectively controlled using any of several readily available general use herbicides such as glyphosate or triclopyr. Follow label and state requirements. It is resistant to some herbicides - acetolactate synthase (ALS) inhibitors: chlorsulfuron, metsulfuron, tribenuron, triasulfuron, rimsulfuron, sulfometuron, flumetsulam and imazapyr.
U.S. Forest Service. 2006. Weed of the Week:Common Chickweed. Accessed February 2009: http://www.na.fs.fed.us/fhp/invasive_plants/weeds/common-chickweed.pdf
Bugwood Network. Bugwood.org
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