Spring is springing as we speak.
In the city and beyond.
This specimen of common chickweed (Stellaria media) was collected on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, in a “mostly shady area.” Though small, if you look closely you’ll encounter a charismatic tiny flower. Common chickweed is a familiar plant across the world, found in every continent (except perhaps Antarctica?). Like many cosmopolitan lawn weeds, it is native to “Eurasia.” The plant’s exact native range is unclear, but it is considered not native to North America.
In Pennsylvania, common chickweed can be found in habitat ranging from urban lawns to forests. In some locations dense growth of the plant can form a mat along the ground. Common chickweed can be found just about year-round when snow isn’t on the ground, and like dandelion, the plant flowers throughout the year.
The tiny flowers now are also sending a signal – spring is on the way. For some plants, such as skunk cabbage and red maple, spring has already sprung.
This species is a good one to look out for during the upcoming City Nature Challenge!
Check back for more! Botanists at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History share digital specimens from the herbarium on dates they were collected. They are in the midst of a three-year project to digitize nearly 190,000 plant specimens collected in the region, making images and other data publicly available online. This effort is part of the Mid-Atlantic Megalopolis Project (mamdigitization.org), a network of thirteen herbaria spanning the densely populated urban corridor from Washington, D.C. to New York City to achieve a greater understanding of our urban areas, including the unique industrial and environmental history of the greater Pittsburgh region. This project is made possible by the National Science Foundation under grant no. 1801022.
Mason Heberling is Assistant Curator of Botany at Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Museum employees are encouraged to blog about their unique experiences and knowledge gained from working at the museum.
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Carnegie Museum of Natural History Blog Citation InformationBlog author: Heberling, Mason
Publication date: March 8, 2021