Posts Tagged Chickweed

Media Encounter

Media Encounter . . .

Say

Say “Chickweed.”
(Stellaria media, NYC, 02 2017)

Bright white drops like elongated undyed eggs of Easter. The first Galanthus nivalis were sighted in an otherwise fallow Manhattan flowerbed on Sunday, February 19. Blooms succulent and upright enough; they must have appeared several days earlier. Someone may need to go out more.

Out there, the sky a mix of overcast patched with blue, the grounds have remained cool and damp since the last freeze’s thaw. There is, on the level, vibrant green to be seen wild, growing.

The excitement for me this time out stems from my encounter with the media, pun intended. Happy sight it is to see the immigrant Stellaria media chickweed spreading about in loose communities at the base of planted pines. The tannic, more acidic soil of the evergreen does not seem to be minded by Stellaria of the West Village.

Pine Base Stellaria (NYC, 02 2017)

Pine Base Stellaria
(NYC, 02 2017)

Spring a month in advance, already, looks into the camera:

Say “Chickweed.”

— rPs 02 24 2017

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More February Wildflowers

More February Wildflowers . . .

I thought I would take advantage of Leap Day 2012 to squeeze in one more post for the month of February. The past four weeks have remained damp and cool, rather than cold, making the green spaces of the West Village resemble tundra. The park grass is spongy, close cropped, yet green, and along the edges a variety of hardy wildflower species can be found, low to the ground, in bloom . . .

Common Chickweed (Stellaria media)

(photo taken 02 12 2012)

Red Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum)

(photo taken 02 19 2012)

Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta)

(photo taken 02 12 2012)

Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris)

(photo taken 02 12 2012)

Feral Croci (Crocus vernus)

(photo taken 02 12 2012)

And, in my own courtyard, a few Common Snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis)

(photo taken 02 23 2012)

– rPs 02 29 2012

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An April Shower’s Wildflowers

An April Shower’s Wildflowers . . .

A view of Prospect Park Lake in Brooklyn captures the cold colors of early April. (photo taken 04 10 2011)

 

The transition from winter to spring really does resemble the way a rainbow emerges from a storm. First, there is the monochromatic gray sky, opening up with wind and water until it begins to thin out. A hint of pale blue emerges, followed by the electrum sun and the full spectrum of visible light manifested by the prism of that same rainfall, now receding.

April 2011 followed this manner of blooming, at least in New York City. A season opening fly fishing trip to Prospect Park Lake in Brooklyn was accompanied by the somber colors of early spring. The lake itself was charcoal grey and surrounded by the tan stalks of last year’s cattails and the brown mesh of tree branches just beginning to bud. A week of cold rain followed. The spring season appeared to be as late as the Passover and Easter holidays.

When Easter Sunday did arrive, it turned into the first balmy warm day of the year. The humidity appeared in an instant, bumblebees filled the air, robins and purple finches trilled in the trees, which like the grounds all around town had gone a bright pastel green. The wildflowers, too, had arrived, including . . .

Chickweed (Stellaria media)

Chickweed (Stellaria media)

 

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

 

Ground Ivy (Glechoma  hederacea)

Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea)

 

Heartsease (Viola tricolor)

Heartsease (Viola tricolor)

 

Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)

Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris)

 

Red Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum)

Red Deadnettle (Lamium purpureum)

 

Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)

Shepherd’s Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)

 

Siberian Squill (Scilla siberica)

Siberian Squill (Scilla siberica)

 

Wild Violet (Viola papilionacea)

Wild Violet (Viola papilionacea)

 

The first act of Manhattan’s spring blooming is complete. The stage is now set for May’s flowers.

–  rPs 04 29 2011

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A Stellar Weedflower

A Stellar Weedflower . . .

 

A patch of common chickweed (Stellaria media) fills the gap between cut grass and stone wall in Hudson River Park. (photo taken 04 30 2010)

 

The next time you take a walk through the West Willage, take a closer look at the thin green edges of the neighbothood, the intersections where building wall meets sidewalk, where sidewalk meets curb or light pole. Wild species will be sprouting, even thriving, within these narrow, marginal spots. There is a good chance, too, that the predominant plant in place is common chickweed (Stellaria media).

The common chickweed is a prolific ground cover that can spread quickly into dense, interlaced mats of vegetation. A member of the pink family, Caryophyllaceae, chickweed is a cool-weather annual, one of the first to germinate during the growing season. Each spring a plant hunter can find it sprouting green and lush beneath the last snowfall of the season. The tolerance for low temperatures hints at this immigrant’s European origins. Likewise, the bright,  vigorous foliage hints at its edibility. Chickweed is one of the more tasty and nutritious of the wild greens that grow in the West Village. The leaves, stems, and flowers of the plant are all edible as a salad green and possess a flavor reminiscent of corn. The flavor was perhaps a favorite of olde world chickens and the source of the plant’s popular name.

The bloom of this wildflower is interesting to contemplate. Tiny, and pale white in color, at first glance it seems to consist of ten narrow petals. A close inspection reveals that the chickweed’s flower has only five, but five so deeply lobed as to appear like ten.

Observation consistently reveals that common chickweed naturally gravitates toward the gaps between man-made structures such as poles and walls and cultivated spaces such as lawns or gardens. I have seen this so often that I now subscribe to the belief that the common chickweed should not be pulled out by the roots and disgarded. This wildflower, if tended regulary, will make a stellar ground cover and decorative greenfill for those narrow or awkward yard spaces usually left barren and exposed. The silver lining is that the tended clippings can be later tossed into the salad bowl.

 

Common chickweed (Stellaria media) forms a fine line of ground cover along a wall in Hudson River Park. (photo taken 04 25 2010)

 

— rPs 06 14 2010

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