Chickweed is a common wild edible plant that is packed with vitamins and minerals.
What does a hardcore macho, worm eating, outdoor enthusiast eat for breakfast this time of year? Chickweed of course.
Chickweed or Stellaria media, has juicy, tender, slightly sweet leaves and stalks, all of which I add to my morning salads. Yep, you heard right, my breakfast salad. That’s my power breakfast this time of year.
There could be another reason why I’m eating a wild crunchy green plant this morning for my breakfast; my fish trap is empty. But even if it weren’t I’d still be eating chickweed because of benefits of this wonderful, cooling, and very edible plant which is loaded in vitamin A,D, (Great for the cloudy Oregon coast), B complex, C, and rutin, a flavonoid. Chickweed also contains iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, sodium, copper, providing me with all the nutrients I need to start the day.
What does Chickweed taste like? Not like chicken, you can be sure about that.
I added chickweed to my salad fixings, and while I was at it I found a patch of large Sheep Sorrel (Rumex acetosella) nearby. Sheep Sorrel tastes nothing like sheep, or chicken for that matter, but like all sorrels–the leaves are tart, sour to the taste and make a great addition to a morning salad to really wake up those taste buds.
I then drizzled some very delicious extra virgin olive oil from our local food co-op in the salad, added a little ground black pepper, and there you have it, a feast for a king. Or a pauper, or a meatless human being such as I this morning.
Not only are Chickweed and Sheep Sorrel both edible and delicious, they both have important medicinal properties we can easily apply in the outdoors.
Chickweed is also a Medicine
Chickweed is used as a cooling plant and as an anti-inflammatory. Examples of its use are when a headache is coming on from stress or heat. We can take the whole green chickweed plant, a good handful, sit down, lean against a log or tree and apply the whole plant as a cooling agent to the forehead, back of the neck, or any other part of our body that feels overheated. Ah relief!
Chickweed can also be applied directly to minor burns as an effective poultice or refrigerant. It’s a very safe plant to use and can also be made into a medicinal tea by using a medium handful of fresh healthy plant, roots and all, cleaned, steeped, in 8oz boiled water for 15 minutes. Take Chickweed as a tea, or if you must, internally as a general ant-inflammatory, such as in raw in a salad.
You can add it to your survival stew just fine. Don’t overlook it though, put it in the stew just before its ready to be taken off the fire for a delicious addition to any camp pot.
What distinguishes it from other look-a-like plants is its one-side stem hair characteristic.
Chickweed only has hairs on one side of the stem, an important factor to keep in mind when keying this lovely plant out. An important wild edible that we cover during the April Oregon Coastal Plants Course. You can register for this class on our Oregon Survival School page.