February 3, 2013


Stellaria media can be found anywhere in the world where there is moist soil. It can be invasive and is in fact a common weed in gardens, yards, and parks. For that reason, I'm not sure if I would purposely plant and grow it (if I had a backyard of my own), but I also wouldn't pick it off the ground at Central Park, which is probably heavily sprayed and fertilized, to eat for a snack (like I have done before). So I was super excited to find it at the Garden of Eve Farm stand at McCarren Park Greenmarket yesterday.

Many plants that we consider to be weeds often have culinary, nutritive, or medicinal value-- dandelion greens, nettles, purslane, sorrel. Think about how weeds have adapted to withstand almost any environmental condition, absorbing and taking in the good as well as the bad around them and arising stronger in the end. Their actions work similarly in our bodies.

According to my Medicinal Herbs book by Rosemary Gladstar, chickweed is highly esteemed for its emollient, demulcent healing properties and is a major herb for addressing skin irritation, eye inflammation, and kidney and liver disorders. It is most commonly used in healing salves in which the herb is dried, infused in oil, then mixed with some beeswax and used to soothe irritated, dry skin and rashes. I think I will try making that one of these days. Meanwhile, since it doesn't dry or store well, we are eating it fresh and using it in our salads. It's full of vitamins, calcium, potassium, and other good stuff. Today, Neil made pineapple tofu (chicken for him) pasta salad with celery, shallots, and chickweed.

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