Even the genus name says it, Stellaria, star. But the usual common name, Giant Chickweed, doesn’t do it justice. In fact, it does it a slight injustice because many of us associate the name, chickweed, with an introduced common yard weed. But this delicate beauty is one to seek out and appreciate, not yank from the flower bed or garden.
The scientific name is Stellaria pubera. The genus name refers to the star-shaped arrangement of the petals. At first glance, the flower looks like it has ten petals. A closer look shows that there are actually only five, but each of them is deeply divided. The species name refers to the tiny hairs (pubescence) that cover the stems and other parts of the plant. The common name, chickweed, is in reference to the seeds which are eaten by birds.
Giant Chickweed’s delicate flowers occur in rich woodland soils in much of the eastern Unite States. I spotted several plants a few days ago when I returned the Marbled Salamander larvae to their pool. It is growing alongside Spring Beauty and Windflower (Rue Anemone), making for eye-catching splashes of white amongst the leaf litter and greening forest floor.
The simple pleasures of seeing wild flowers such as these or of catching a glimpse of a migrating warbler are among the many reasons we should all take a walk in the woods this time of year. Each time I am out, I see something new, and I am reminded of all that spring has to offer us if only we take the time to appreciate it.