Common chickweed is a very common weed (3). It is extremely variable in its appearance, but generally it has a very slender tap root and greatly branching leafy stems, which lie along the ground (2). The lower leaves vary in size from 3 to 20 mm in length, they are oval in shape and have long stalks; the upper leaves tend to be larger (up to 25 mm in length) and lack stalks. Many small, white flowers are produced; the stamens have reddish-violet anthers(2).
Chickweed occurs either as an annual species or as a short-lived perennial(3), and produces several generations a year, each one flowering after just 5 weeks of growth (1). It can remain green and often in flower throughout winter (4). The flowers are visited by many small flies and bees (2). A single plant may produce around 2,500 reddish-brown seeds, which can remain viable in the soil for 25-40 years (1).
Common chickweeds is highly prized as a food for poultry and cage-birds, and even for humans in small quantities as a vegetable of stir-fries and salads (4).
Found in a wide variety of disturbed habitats, particularly in nutrient-rich areas (3). It is a notorious weed of gardens and cultivated areas, and may also occur on walls, new plantations, sewage works and manure heaps, and is a typical feature of coastal strand-lines (3). It has been found in pre-Neolithic deposits, and so it is not dependent on human disturbance for survival (1).
Part of the stamen (the male reproductive organ of a flower) that produces pollen. (See http://www.rbgkew.org.uk/ksheets/pdfs/flower.pdf for a fact sheet on flower structure)
A cultural period of the Stone Age, which began around 10,000 B.C. The Neolithic is characterized by the making of polished stone tools and the development of agriculture.
Plants that live for at least three seasons; after an initial period they produce flowers once a year.
The male reproductive organ of a flower, it is made up of an anther (the pollen-producing organ) and a filament (stalk). (See http://www.rbgkew.org.uk/ksheets/pdfs/flower.pdf for a fact sheet on flower structure).
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