It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve reached week 52 of Forage Friday having not missed a week due to lack of subject matter. The was a few times when something prevented the post but wasn’t because of not having a plant to talk about. When I started Forage Friday I thought that I would run out of subject matter in the winter months. But what I learned was that if you look hard enough that you’ll find what you need when you need it. And that’s one of awesome things about Chickweed! It’s one of the early Spring forage plants.
I was first introduced to Chickweed by my grandfather during one of walks to check the fence line. Chickweed was huge blessing to people in the great depression. But the time it shows up the winter stores of home canned food would have been running low. Every meal in late winter would have shown how few mason jars were left on the shelf. Then one day the snow melts and reveals a thick mat of fresh greens. Grandpa said it was enough to make you drop to your knees and give thanks right there one the spot.
A thick mat of Chickweed in early Spring.
As the name suggests Chickweed was often fodder for livestock as well as the family. In our modern world with its frozen dinners we tend to forget that our ancestors not only had to feed themselves but also had to make sure that the animals were well fed and healthy.
Chickweed is a veritable nutrition bomb!! If you could turn a leaf over and read a label you’d see vitamins A, C & several of the B vitamins. You’re also getting a trainload of minerals like calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron, phosphorus and potassium. Of course like all plants this is going to depend on the soil health.
Chickweed can be eaten raw and goes well with other forage plants. I recommend wild purple violets for the color and sweetness of pedals. Chickweed can have a strong flavor but it’s a plant to be consumed for it’s benefits as it replenishes a lot of nutrition that can be lost over the winter.
Medicinal information about any wild plants found on this blog is given in a historical context and not intended to be medical advice on any level. Remember, I’m a photographer and not a doctor.
Herbalists say that preparations of Chickweed help with constipation and other stomach/bowel problems. Lung troubles, obesity and even rabies. Salves made with Chickweed are recommended by herbalism for skin problems like eczema and I have personally used it to relieve itching from bug bites.
Chickweed is often found growing with Speedwell
Chickweed is often found growing with Speedwell and Speedwell is said to have similar uses. ( Speedwell is to be covered in an upcoming post. )
The Chickweed flowers look really similar to the False Rue Anemone that featured in the previous two posts but if you look at anther you see that they don’t quite make a crown shape as with False Rue Anemone and they’re a reddish brown as opposed to bright yellow. The flowers themselves are also a bit smaller. The leaves of Chickweed are not mitten shaped like those of False Rue Anemone.
Chickweed is a blessing in hard times and could be considered a luxury in good times.
As always I’ve only given enough here to get the conversation going so if you have a personal experience with Chickweed I’d love to hear about it. Just let me know in the comments section below. 😊
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