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  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;  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.