Yes, it’s another garden nuisance, growing like crazy at the moment, flowering and setting seed almost before you have time to blink. But like a lot of vigorous weeds, it has benefits to offer us.
As its name suggests, chickens like to eat it.
But it’s a good food for humans too, high in iron and a valuable addition to our diet before many fresh garden vegetables are available. You can add the leaves to salads, blitz them into pesto with garlic, pine nuts and olive oil, or make a delicate herb tea. But its real virtue in herbal terms is that it is high in saponins and plant sterols.
Made into a poultice or cream, it will soothe inflammation and help to heal eczema, burns and other skin problems. Traditionally, it was known as an instant remedy for itching, whatever the cause.
It’s useful for animals with mange or other skin disorders, too, and it won’t matter if they lick it off. The saponins are toxic in very large quantities, but you’d have to eat several kilos to do any harm. Chickweed (Stellaria media) is one of those opportunists that thrives in disturbed soil.