0

ORRIN MORRIS: Chickweed reminds us we 'have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God'

Chickweed Stellaria media

Chickweed Stellaria media

Most of the year my garden plot has been covered with chickweed. We have sprayed some with herbicides but not those close to the cool weather crops. Some chickweed we pulled up by hand.When spring comes, I will till the garden but all I will do is fold under the seeds that were on top and bring up from underground the seeds that were tilled under last fall. Soon these pesky plants will sprout, bloom and produce seeds. The cycle in the fight with chickweed continues.

The biblical account of the fall of humankind is the fate of all who are cursed with the prolific chickweed. Note the words of God concerning the curse for Adam's disobedience. "Then to Adam He said, '... cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life'" (Genesis 3:17).

Toil! There is no other word that fits the labor required to fight chickweed.CHICKWEED

Stellaria mediaSeveral of you will question my sanity for including chickweed in this column on wildflowers. Why would a person claim to be sane and call attention to a scourge of such great dimensions as the chickweed?

The answer is simple -- its bloom.

The next time you are crawling on your knees in the garden or around the lawn pulling up chickweed, pause a moment to look at its very delicate white bloom.

The bloom measures about -inch. It has five petals with deep cuts that give the appearance of 10 petals. There are three yellow stamens.

The leaves are elliptical, hairy and paired opposite. There are five bracts that shield the base of the flower and they are very hairy. At first, the plant is compact but as it matures it spreads. In a month or so as others germinate, they form a dense mass of bright green juicy leaves.

Another reason to include it in this column is so newcomers can identify this culprit. It is a plague in the South like the dandelion is in the North.

For the newcomers' benefit, pre-emergents to control chickweed work best when applied in early fall. Why? Because chickweed does not like hot weather. The seeds start to germinate in late fall and re-seeds throughout spring until June.

In spite of its blight upon us, the lowly chickweed has a history of beneficial usages. Some early settlers used the young leaves in salads while others cooked them as a green vegetable.

From a medicinal perspective, the leaves were crushed and mixed with lard as an ointment for bruises, irritations, teenage acne and other skin problems, according to "Hedgemaids and Fairy Candles," by Jack Sanders.

Isn't it amazing that although we view weeds as a curse, so many have medicinal value or can be a source of food? Of all the weeds that infest our lives, the chickweed is the ultimate reminder that all of us "have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).

However, by the grace of our loving God, we can be redeemed to be a benefit to others.

Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister, local artist and art teacher. Notecards are available of the wildflowers published in the Citizen. His email is odmsketchingpad@yahoo.com or call him at 770-929-3697.