Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)

Lawn Weed Identification and Control Tips

How to identify and manage Common Chickweed Stellaria media (sometimes called Starwort). Photos are included to help with weed id.

Chickweed is a creeping winter annual lawn weed. Seeds germinate in fall or late winter. Its spreading branches take root where they contact the soil, allowing it to completely overgrow large patches of lawns.


Characteristics:

  • Winter annual
  • Reproduces by seed and through fibrous root system
  • Creeping growth habit
  • Small, pale green leaves
  • Hairy stems
  • White star-like flowers
  • Indicates moist, compacted soils
Common Chickweed Flowers
Picture of Common Chickweed

Common Chickweed Control in Lawns

The best weed control is always a healthy, well-managed lawn that will not allow weed seeds to germinate and grow. Weed seeds need contact with soil and sunlight to germinate and grow into mature weeds. A dense, vigorous lawn will choke out weed seedlings before they become established.

Weed Images

Common Chickweed
Common Chickweed
Lawn weed identification Common Chickweed
Lawn weed identification Common Chickweed
Common Chickweed Stellaria media L.
Image courtesy of USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database




Life cycle - winter annual (cool-season weed) that reproduces by seed. Its life cycle starts in the fall with seed germination, then flowering in the spring, setting seed and dying as the temperatures rise.

**Be sure to read and follow the directions on the label if you choose to use an herbicide. It is a violation of federal law to use ANY pesticide in a manner that is not consistent with the label**

Chemical Control - Winter annual weeds complete their life cycle in the spring. So the best time to control them with chemicals is in the fall.

You can use a pre-emergent herbicide - commonly called 'crabgrass preventer' - if you are not planting new grass seed in the fall. Be sure to apply it in early fall before the weather turns cool and weed seeds germinate. Another option is to use a post-emergent broad leaf herbicide. Post-emergent herbicides work best on young, small weeds.

Landscape beds can be spot sprayed with glyphosate (Roundup), a non-selective post-emergent weed spray. Avoid damage to non-target plants from over spray or drift.

Hand Weeding - pull or dig, be sure to remove the entire plant and root.

Weed Identification

Leaves - The light green leaves are arranged opposite along the stem. They are from 1/2" to 1 1/4" long. The upper leaves do not have a petiole, the lower leaves have a long petiole.

Stems - The creeping stem spread along the ground and root at the nodes. Stems are light green and hairy. The hairs run in vertical rows along the stem.

Roots - Shallow, fibrous root system.

Flowers - Tiny (5 to 10 mm) white star-like flowers. The flowers look like they have 10 petals. Take a close look and you will see five deeply lobed petals.

Growth Habit - Creeping, spreading habit that forms mats. It grows to about 12 inches tall.

It can be found in lawns and gardens throughout the United States. It prefers moist soils that are high in nitrogen.

According the the U.S. Forest Service, "reported invasive in HI, KY, MD, NC, NJ, PA, TN, VA, and WV."

Common Chickweed


New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.