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  Life cycle | Emergence | Flowers | Reproduction | Competition | Management strategy | Control mechanisms

Stellaria media

Life Cycle

An annual or winter annual that reproduces by seed and stems roots at the nodes. The winter annual form occurs only in mild climates.


Two main flushes of emergence occur, early spring and late fall. Sporadic emergence occurs through the summer.


Flowers appear four to five weeks after emergence. Flowers open only for one day.


  • Seed
    Seeds of chickweed are viable as soon as they are shed. Buried seeds require light before germination can occur. Most seeds germinate within three years after being shed, but deeply buried seed can survive for up to 60 years.
  • Vegetative
    Chickweed will root at the nodes of prostrate stems in moist, loose soil.

Chickweed is not a strong competitor in established crops and grows only in bare patches, but seedling crops can be smothered when chickweed forms a mat and covers them. Chickweed is a problem because it remains green and can wrap around moving parts of harvest equipment. If weather is cool and wet, chickweed will grow on swaths and delay drying time and make pick-up difficult.

Management Strategy

The main control strategies are prevention of seed production and prevention of re-establishment after cultivation. Special attention must be given to prevent growth and seed production in late fall.

Control Mechanisms
  • Tillage
    Summer fallow - Summer fallow encourages the growth of chickweed because there is no crop cover to provide competition. Till immediately following the first emergence of chickweed and continue to till with each subsequent flush. Tillage must bury the chickweed or it will easily re-establish itself by rooting at the nodes on the stems.

    Pre-seeding tillage - Early shallow tillage encourages germination of weed seeds. When the seedlings emerge the land should be tilled again and then seeded. Seeding will be delayed by approximately 10 days and some surface moisture will be lost.

    Post-seeding tillage - Post-seeding tillage is not an effective control for chickweed since chickweed plants are dragged and not buried and easily re-roots from stem nodes.

    Fall tillage - Fall tillage is important to control chickweed that would otherwise set seed or overwinter. The best control will result when weeds are buried and not allowed to re-root.
  • Rotation
    Strong stands of perennial crops are beneficial in suppressing chickweed. Annual crops, once established, can also effectively suppress this weed. Summer fallowing must be thorough in spring and late fall to keep chickweed growth in check.
  • Seeding
    Increase seeding rates for chickweed infested land by up to 25 per cent to encourage crop competition. Seeding may be delayed while waiting for the early spring emergence of chickweed.
  • Mowing
    Close mowing will help to reduce seed set of chickweed; however, many prostrate plants will not be cut.
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Chris Neeser.
This document is maintained by Shelley Barkley.
This information published to the web on November 30, 2001.
Last Reviewed/Revised on August 21, 2018.