Old Corn Fields Covered with Chickweed

Walking past bare fields to get to the woodland trail, we couldn’t help but notice all the weeds growing in the place of corn or soybeans. On this walk we saw chickweed, purple dead nettle, speedwell and henbit among the ground covers flowering in the sunshine of the day. As you drive down the highway and see barren fields, the ones with a haze of purple on the ground are home to purple dead nettle.

Most of the green ground cover growing in this old corn field is chickweed.
Most of the green ground cover growing in this old corn field is chickweed. Photo taken 21 April 2011.
Chickweed grows low to the ground, a.k.a. groundcover.
Chickweed grows low to the ground, a.k.a. groundcover. Photo taken 14 April 2011.

Chickweed flowers have five narrow, white petals with a unique feature. Each petal is cleft or split down the middle. The Common Chickweed, Stellaria media, that is photographed here, appears to have ten petals because the cleft is so deep.

Common Chickweed flowers with five cleft white petals.
Common Chickweed flowers with five cleft white petals. Photo taken 14 April 2011.

There are over a dozen kinds of chickweed and they’re all edible. Gather up the tender stems and flowers for a salad or just add a few sprigs to a lettuce salad. Lettuce has been growing for about a month now out in the garden, so it’s time to enjoy it. Some chickweeds have fuzzy leaves and they’re better eaten after cooking. Boil the leaves for five minutes and serve as greens.

The fields around here will be planted just as soon as the tractors can get past all the rain and mud. According to the forecast it doesn’t look like much planting will done this week.

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