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Mouse-Ear Chickweed

Lawn Weed Identification and Control

Mouse-ear Chickweed (Cerastium vulgatum) is a cool-season perennial, with a creeping, spreading, mat-forming growth habit. It's a lawn weed that can be found throughout the United states. The presence of this weed can be an indicator of moist, compact soils and it likes sunny spots.

Mouse Ear Chickweed in Kentucky Bluegrass Lawn
Mouse-ear Chickweed is a spreading weed that forms dense mats.

Characteristics:

  • Cool-season perennial
  • Reproduces by seed & creeping stems
  • Small, hairy (pubescent), green leaves
  • Shallow roots, but drought tolerant
  • Dense mat-forming growth habit
  • Indicates moist, compact soils

It has a low spreading growth habit. A shallow root root system. And it tolerates drought, wear and low mowing, making it a competitive weed in lawns.

Mouse-ear chickweed, like common chickweed, is edible. It has a spinach-like taste when cooked and is loaded with vitamins.

Like many weeds, chickweed is a heavy seeder that can produce from 10,000 to 15,000 seeds per plant.

Lawn Weed ID & Control

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.

Mouse-ear chickweed
Mouse-ear chickweed
Mouse-ear chickweed
Mouse-ear chickweed flowerDense chickweed mat in a lawn
Mouse-ear chickweed illustrationCerastium vulgatum
Image courtesy of USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database

Frequent, shallow watering will favor the growth of chickweed over your lawn grass. Encourage deep roots -- and help your lawn out-compete shallow rooted weeds -- by giving it a good, deep soaking two or three times a week.

This is an easy weed to pull. The shallow roots come up easily. However, be sure to remove as much of the roots as possible because it can re-sprout from a small piece.

**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**

Pre-emergence herbicides can be applied in the fall to keep weed seeds from sprouting.

Spray broadleaf herbicides in the fall when weeds are actively growing and they are young. Another good reason to control chickweed in the fall is they flower and then produce seeds in the spring. Use a combination product that contains dicamba. 2,4-D alone is does not work on this weed.

Weed ID

Small leaves that are arranged opposite along the stem. They look like green, hairy mouse ears are 3/4 to 1 ½ inches long and about ½ inch wide. The hairs give the leaves a grey-green color.

The stems are hairy, spreading and root at the nodes where they touch the soil.

The tiny white flowers appear in the spring. The flowers have five deeply lobed petals - like common chickweed - that look like ten petals.

Roots are shallow and fibrous...easy to pull.

More pictures of Mouse-ear Chickweed

References:

Home & Garden Information Center, Clemson Cooperative extension: http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/tyk/2009/tyk11.html

USDA-NRCS Plants Database: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=CERAS&photoID=ceras_001_ahp.tif

SHOOTS AND GREENS OF EARLY SPRING in Northeastern North America, Steve Brill: http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com/Plants.Folder/Chickweed.html



Mouse-Ear Chickweed


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