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Common Chickweed

This annual plant is found in cultivated ground, by roadsides and in waste grounds around Scotland. It is a close cousin of the Stitchworts (Stellaria) and can be easily mistaken for them, until one remembers that the petals of Common Chickweed are much shorter than its sepals; Stitchwort petals are longer than the sepals. It has a tremendously long flowering season, and can flower at pretty much any time of year, weather permitting. 

A favourite food of chickens and other fowl, the stems of this plant are fleshy but weak, and tend to flop over the ground or other plants. Another way of recognising Common Chickweed is by the single line of hairs that run the length of its stems.  Leaves grow in opposite pairs along the stems and are egg-shaped. Lower leaves are long-stalked while upper leaves are sessile. 

It has tiny flowers, 6-10mm in width, which grow clustered in a loose head at the stem tips. Flowers are always white, with 5 narrow, papery green sepals, and 5 shorter white petals, each of which is deeply cleft in two almost to its length. In this respect it is a true Stellaria. Usually sporting 5 yellow stamens in the centre of the flower (and sometimes up to 8) the flowers have 3 stigmas to feed the ovary. The fruit is a single capsule nestled within the sepals, narrow and egg-shaped, which splits into 6 segments.

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