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For the gastropod of Xenophoridae family, see Stellaria (gastropod).
Greater Stitchwort close 800.jpg
Greater stitchwort, Stellaria holostea
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Core eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Caryophyllaceae
Genus: Stellaria

Stellaria is a genus of about 90-120 species flowering plants in the family Caryophyllaceae, with a cosmopolitan distribution. Common names include stitchwort and chickweed..


Stellaria is a relatively small herb 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.[1][2]

Food use[edit]

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 spp), C. lineolea (recorded on S. graminea), C. lithargyrinella (recorded on S. holostea), C. solitariella (feeds exclusively on S. holostea) and C. striatipennella.


Some species, including Stellaria media, are used as leaf vegetables, often raw in salads.

Stellaria media is widespread in North America from the Brooks Range in Alaska to all points south within North America. There are several closely related plants referred to as chickweed, but which lack the culinary and medicinal properties of plants in the genus Stellaria. Plants in the genus Cerastium are very similar in appearance to Stellaria and are in the same family (Carophyllaceae). Stellaria media can be easily distinguished from all other members of this family by examining the stems. Stellaria has fine hairs on only one side of the stem in a single band. Other members of the family Carophyllaceae which resemble Stellaria have hairs uniformly covering the entire stem. This is a favored food of finches and many other seed-eating birds.

Selected species[edit]

Lesser stitchwort, Stellaria graminea


  1. ^ Parnell, J. and Curtis, T. 2012. Webb's An Irish Flora. Cork University Press. ISBN 978-185918-4783
  2. ^ Clapham, A.R., Tutin, T.G. and Warburg, E.F. 1968. Excursion Flora of the British Isles. ISBN 0-521-04656-4

Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West, Gregory L. Tilford, ISBN 0-87842-359-1