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Greater stitchwort (Stellaria holostea)
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Caryophyllaceae
Genus: Stellaria
L. (1753), nom. cons.
  • Alsine Tourn. ex L.
  • Alsinula Dostál
  • Ballarion Raf.
  • Bigelowia Raf.
  • Fimbripetalum (Turcz.) Ikonn.
  • Hylebia Fourr.
  • Larbrea A.St.-Hil.
  • Leucostemma Benth. ex G.Don
  • Malachium Fr. ex Rchb.
  • Micropetalon Pers.
  • Myosanthus Desv.
  • Myosoton Moench
  • Plettkea Mattf.
  • Spergulastrum Michx.
  • Stellularia Hill
  • Tytthostemma Nevski

Stellaria is a genus of about 190 species of flowering plants in the family Caryophyllaceae, with a cosmopolitan distribution. Common names include starwort,[2] stitchwort and chickweed.


Stellaria species are relatively small herbs with simple opposite leaves. It produces small flowers with 5 sepals and 5 white petals each usually deeply cleft, or none at all, all free. Stamens 10 or fewer.[3][4]


Some species, including Stellaria media which is widely distributed throughout the Northern Hemisphere, are used as leaf vegetables, often raw in salads. This is a favored food of finches and many other seed-eating birds.

Chickweeds are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including angle shades, heart and dart, riband wave, setaceous Hebrew character and the Coleophora case-bearers C. coenosipennella (feeds exclusively on Stellaria species), C. lineolea (recorded on S. graminea), C. lithargyrinella (recorded on S. holostea), C. solitariella (feeds exclusively on S. holostea) and C. striatipennella.

Several closely related plants referred to as chickweed, but which lack the culinary properties of plants in the genus Stellaria, include members of the genus Cerastium, of similar appearance to Stellaria and also in the (Caryophyllaceae).


Lesser stitchwort, Stellaria graminea

The following species are recognised in the genus Stellaria:[1]


  1. ^ a b "Stellaria L. | Plants of the World Online | Kew Science". Plants of the World Online. Retrieved 2022-06-27.
  2. ^ USDA, NRCS (n.d.). "Stellaria". The PLANTS Database ( Greensboro, North Carolina: National Plant Data Team. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
  3. ^ Parnell, J. and Curtis, T. 2012. Webb's An Irish Flora. Cork University Press. ISBN 978-185918-4783
  4. ^ Clapham, A.R., Tutin, T.G. and Warburg, E.F. 1968. Excursion Flora of the British Isles. ISBN 0-521-04656-4

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Stellaria at Wikimedia Commons