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Stellaria from latin in refernce to the star shape of its flowers
Alsine media (Linn.). Passerina
Tincture of whole fresh plant in bloom
Plantae; Spermatophyta, Angiospermae - Flowering Plants; Dicotyledonae; Caryophylliidae; Caryophyllales; Caryophyllaceae - Pink Family
Proved by Kopp [on himself] in 1893. Also proved by Pulford on himself, his wife and his son, though "Mrs. P. had no result whatsoever".
Description of the substance
---Habitat---It has been said that there is no part of the world where the Chickweed is not to be found. It is a native of all temperate and north Arctic regions, and has naturalized itself wherever the white man has settled, becoming one of the commonest weeds.
Chickweed is a most variable plant. Gerard enumerates no less than thirteen species, but the various forms are nowadays merely considered deviations from the one type. Hooker gives three varieties which have been named by other botanists as separate species.
---Description---The stem is procumbent and weak, much branched, often reaching a considerable length,trailing on the ground, juicy, pale green and slightly swollen at the joints. Chickweed is readily distinguished from the plants of the same genus by the line of hairs that runs up the stem on one side only, which when it reaches a pair of leaves is continued on the opposite side. The leaves are succulent, egg-shaped, about 1/2 inch long and 1/4 inch broad, with a short point, pale green and quite smooth, with flat stalks below, but stalkless above. They are placed on the stem in pairs. The small white star-like flowers are situated singly in the axils of the upper leaves. Their petals are narrow and deeply cleft, not longer than the sepals. They open about nine o'clock in the morning and are said to remain open just twelve hours in bright weather, but rain prevents them expanding, and after a heavy shower they become pendent instead of having their faces turned up towards the sun, though in the course of a few days rise again. The flowers are already in bloom in March and continue till late in the autumn. The seeds are contained in a little capsule fitted with teeth which close up in wet weather, but when ripe are open and the seeds are shaken out by each movement of the plant in the breeze this being one of the examples of the agency of the wind in the dispersal of seeds, which is to be seen in similar form in the capsules of poppy, henbane, campion and many other common plants.
The Chickweed is also an instance of what is termed the 'Sleep of Plants,' for every night the leaves approach each other, so that their upper surfaces fold over the tender buds of the new shoots, and the uppermost pair but one of the leaves at the end of the stalk are furnished with longer leafstalks than the others, so that they can close upon the terminating pair and protect the tip of the shoot.
"The plant has clever ways to assure survival. In cold months when few flying insects are available for pollination, it produces cleistogamous flowers, which never open yet make seed. In warmer months, when its normal flowers compete with numerous larger and showier blossoms for the attention of insects, it produces nectar in great [for its size] quantities. Thus, it is pollininated by cross-fertilization, which produces a better quality of seed. As an annual S. media needs seed in considerable numbers and with an excellent germination rate. That the species is so common and widespread is testimony to both the quantity and quality of seed."[Sanders]
S. media is considered to represent a high stage of evolution. As an example of its highly evolved systems, Dr. John Hutchinson, once head of the Botanical Museums at the Royal Botanical gardens, cited "the line of hairs that appear down only on one side of the stem and on leaf stalks. 'These carry out a special function,' he said. 'They are readily wetted by rain and dew and retain a considerable amount of water. This is conducted down to the leaf-stalks, where some of it is absorbed by the lower cells of the hairs, and any surplus is passed farther down to the next pair of leaves, and so on; the same process being repeated in each case.' Chickweed does so well in fairly dry situations because it is able to make the best use of the water available." [Sanders]