Mouseear chickweed (Cerastium fontanum ssp. vulgare)
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Mouseear chickweed is a prostrate perennial broadleaf plant that can behave like a biennial or annual in disturbed places. In California, it is found in the northwestern region, Cascade Range, and Sierra Nevada, up to 7200 feet (about 2200 m). It probably also occurs in the southern Central Coast, South Coast Ranges, and southern South Coast. Mouseear chickweed inhabits agricultural land and other disturbed sites.
Turf, gardens, landscaped areas, agronomic and vegetable crop fields, orchards, vineyards, grasslands, wet soil near marshes, moist woodlands, managed forests, nurseries, roadsides, and other disturbed places.
Cotyledons (seed leaves) are rounded and either lack hairs or have very few hairs. The first and next few leaf pairs are oval to narrowly football-shaped, with abruptly pointed tips and long hairs. Leaf stalks are equal in length to the leaf blades. True leaves are opposite to one another along the stem, have rounded tips, and are stalkless.
Mouseear chickweed grows up to about 20 inches (0.5 m) long. It is a hairy plant with creeping matlike stems that root from the stem joints (nodes). Stems are mostly forked and leaves are opposite to one another along the stem. Leaves are either stalkless or have a short stalk. Although similar in form to common chickweed, Stellaria media, mouseear chickweed can be distinguished by its hairy leaves and stems (common chickweed stems have one line of hairs on either side and leaves are hairless or have hairs only on the edge of the leaf near the base).
Mouseear chickweed blooms from March to August. Flowers are produced in open clusters at the end of the stem. Small, inconspicuous flowers appear to have 10 petals, but are really 5 deeply divided white petals.
Fruits consist of cylindrical capsules, roughly 1/4 to 3/7 of an inch (6.5-11 mm) long, and contain numerous minute seeds. The open tip of the fruit is surrounded by ten teeth.
Seeds are tiny, about 1/25 of an inch (1 mm) long or less, triangular to egg-shaped, and reddish brown. Under magnification, minute nipplelike projections can be seen covering the surface.
Mouseear chickweed reproduces by seed, but sometimes reproduces by creeping stems that root from the stem joints (nodes).
Related or similar plants
- Common chickweed, Stellaria media
- Sticky chickweed, Cerastium glomeratum