September 19, 2017

Outstanding in the Field

Cerastium arvense | Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

Cerastium arvense | Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

A member of the pink family, Cerastium arvense is a perennial herb that is better known as chickweed. To be precise, this one is field chickweed, growing usually 6 to 10 inches tall, although it can reach 20 inches in the right conditions.  It sports those typical chickweed blossoms with five petals split into two lobes in a clear shade of white, in bloom from spring to fall. It can be hard to distinguish from its near relative, mouse-ear chickweed. However, if you inspect the flowers, the petals are roughly twice as long as the sepals in field chickweed; in mouse-ear chickweed, the petals are smaller, about as long as the sepals.  Even in this tiny a bloom, this difference is quite easy to pick out.  And did you know that arvense is Latin for “in the field?” Now you do.

Wild Wednesday is a collaboration of Garden Maine and Glen Mittelhauser of the nonprofit Maine Natural History Observatory, www.mainenaturalhistory.org.