Chickweed--called Alsine or Stellaria media, a floral star of

middle magnitude--belongs to the Clove-pink order of plants, and,

despite the most severe weather, grows with us all the year round,

in waste places by the roadsides, and as a garden weed. It is easily

known by its fresh-looking, juicy, verdant little leaves, and by its

tiny white star-like flowers; also by a line of small stiff hairs,

which runs up one side
of the stalk like a vegetable hog-mane, and

when it reaches a pair of leaves immediately shifts its position, and

runs up higher on the opposite side.

The fact of our finding Chickweed (and Groundsel) in England, as

well as on the mainland of Europe, affords a proof that Britain,

when repeopled after the great Ice age, must have been united

somewhere to the continent; and its having lasted from earliest

times throughout Europe, North America, and Siberia, seems to

show that this modest plant must be possessed of some universal

utility which has enabled it to hold its own [106] until now in the

great evolutionary struggle. It grows wild allover the earth, and

serves as food for small birds, such as finches, linnets, and other

feathered songsters of the woods. Moreover, we read in the old

herbal of Turner: Qui alunt aviculas caveis inclusas hoc solent

illas si quando cibos fastigiant recreare--or, as Gerard translates

this: Little birds in cages are refreshed with Chickweed when

they loath their meat.

The Chickweed is termed Alsine--quia lucos, vel alsous amat--

because it loves to grow in shady places This small herb abounds

with the earthy salts of potash, which are admirable against

scurvy when thus found in nature's laboratory, and a continued

deprivation from which always proves disastrous to mankind.

The water of Chickweed, says an old writer, is given to

children for their fits, and its juice is used for their gripes. When

boiled, the plant may be eaten instead of Spinach. Its fresh juice if

rubbed on warts, first pared to the quick, will presently cause them

to fall off.

Fresh Chickweed juice, as proved medicinally in 1893, produced

sharp rheumatic pains and stitches in the head and eyes, with a

general feeling of being bruised; also pressure about the liver and

soreness there, with sensations of burning, and of bilious

indigestion. Subsequently, the herb, when given in quite small

doses of tincture, or fresh juice, or infusion, has been found by its

affinity to remove the train of symptoms just described, and to act

most reliably in curing obstinate rheumatism allied therewith.

Furthermore, a poultice prepared from the fresh green juicy leaves,

is emollient and cooling, whilst an ointment made from them with

hog's lard, is manifestly healing.

When rain is impending, the flowers remain closed; [107] and the

plant teaches an exemplary matrimonial lesson, seeing that at night

its leaves approach one another in loving pairs, and sleep with the

tender buds protected between them. Culpeper says: Chickweed

is a fine, soft, pleasing herb, under the dominion of the moon, and

good for many things. Parkinson orders thus: To make a salve fit

to heal sore legs, boil a handful of Chickweed with a handful of

red rose leaves in a pint of the oil of trotters or sheep's feet, and

anoint the grieved places therewith against a fire each evening and

morning; then bind some of the herb, if ye will, to the sore, and so

shall ye find help, if God will.