Fact Sheets


Cerastium spp. L.

Family :

Famille :


Synonym(s) :

Synonyme(s) :

Common Name(s) :

Nom(s) commun(s) :

(English) (GC 2016)

Céraiste (French) (GC 2016)

  • Field chickweed (Cerastium arvense) seeds

  • Field chickweed (Cerastium arvense) seeds

  • Field chickweed (Cerastium arvense) seed

  • Mouse-eared chickweed (Cerastium fontanum subsp. vulgare) seeds

  • Mouse-eared chickweed (Cerastium fontanum subsp. vulgare) seed

  • Mouse-eared chickweed (Cerastium fontanum subsp.   vulgare) seed

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Regulation :

Remarques Réglementation:

  • CFIA Weed Seeds Order - Class 4: Secondary Noxious Weed Seeds
  • CFIA Weed Seeds Order - Class 5: Noxious Weed Seeds

Regulation Notes:

Distribution :

Répartition :

The genus contains about 100 species, originating mainly from north temperate regions of Eurasia and North America and widely introduced around the world (FNA 1993+; Mabberley 2008; USDA-ARS 2021). In Canada, 18 species are distributed across all provinces and territories (Brouillet et al. 2010+). Of these, 13 are native to at least some provinces and the other 5 are introduced (Brouillet et al. 2010+).

Habitat and Crop Association :

Habitat et Cultures Associées :

Cultivated fields, old fields, pastures, rangelands, meadows, gardens, lawns, turf, ditches, roadsides and disturbed areas (Frankton and Muligan 1993; Royer and Dickinson 1999; Darbyshire 2003). In Canada, not a significant problem in cultivated fields where they do not survive tillage, but can become problematic in overgrazed pastures (Royer and Dickinson 1999).

Economic Use, cultivation area, and Weed Association :

Utilisation économique, zone de culture et association de mauvaises herbes :

Duration of Life Cycle :

Durée du cycle vital:

Annual or perennial

Dispersal Unit Type :

Type d’unité de dispersion :


General Information


The two most commonly encountered species in Canada are Cerastium arvense (field chickweed) and Cerastium fontanum subsp. vulgare (mouse-eared chickweed). C. arvense appears to be both native and introduced in North America, while C. fontanum subsp. vulgare is native to Europe and Asia (Darbyshire 2003).

C. arvense is problematic in overgrazed rangeland and pastures (Royer and Dickinson 1999). C. fontanum subsp. vulgare can be found in cultivated fields (Darbyshire 2003), and the seed may remain viable for up to 68 years (DiTomaso and Healy 2007).




  • Capsule


    • Capsule length: 3.0 – 5.0 mm (FNA 1993+)


    • Capsule is egg or oblong shaped (FNA 1993+)

    Surface Texture

    • Capsule surface is smooth


    • Capsule is shiny straw yellow coloured

    Other Features

    • Capsule is shiny green when immature
    • Capsule disperses seed by opening with 6 tooth-like valves (FNA 1993+)
    • Capsule contains an average of 8-10 seeds (Turkington et al. 1980)
  • Seed


    • Seed size within weedy Cerastium species ranges from 0.4 – 1.2 mm diameter (FNA 1993+)
    • Cerastium arvense seed length*: 0.5 – 0.8 mm; width: 0.5 – 0.7 mm
    *Note: minimum and maximum of 10 seeds in a normal range of this species using image measurement (ISMA 2020)


    • Seed is ovate to wedge-shaped seed; compressed

    Surface Texture

    • Seed surface is tuberculate; tubercles with indistinct stellate bases


    • Seed dull reddish-brown

    Other Features

    Hilum & Hilum area

    • Hilum is in an open notch at narrow end of seed
  • Embryo


    • Embryo partially fills the seed


    • Embryo is curved, in a peripheral position


    • Endosperm is hard, translucent white coloured

    Other Features

    • Embryo is yellow coloured

Identification Tips


Cerastium species seeds have a combination of features that distinguishes them in the Caryophyllaceae:

  • Small size
  • Generally wedge-shaped
  • Hilum in an open notch
  • Surface tuberculate with stellate bases

Seeds of Cerastium species appear similar to other genera in the Caryophyllaceae that are small, reddish brown coloured, with stellate grooved reticulation, such as Stellaria species. These species differ from Cerastium species seeds by their translucent colour, hilum in a closed notch and deep grooved reticulation with raised interspaces.

Additional Botany Information


Similar Species


Similar species are based on a study of seed morphology of various species, and those with similar dispersal units are identified. The study is limited by physical specimen and literature availability at the time of examination, and possibly impacted by the subjectivity of the authors based on their knowledge and experience. Providing similar species information for seed identification is to make users aware of similarities that could possibly result in misidentification.

Stellaria media (L.) Vill (common chickweed)

S. media seed is generally larger (diameter*: 0.7 – 1.1 mm ) than commonly encountered Cerastium spp. such as C. arvense (length*: 0.5 – 0.8 mm; width: 0.5 – 0.7 mm)

S. media seeds are round or wedge-shaped with a closed hilum notch, and are translucent reddish-brown, compared to the colour and open hilum notch of Cerastium species seeds.

*Note: minimum and maximum of 10 seeds in a normal range of this species using image measurement (ISMA 2020)

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Brouillet, L., Coursol, F., Meades, S. J., Favreau, M., Anions, M., Bélisle, P. and Desmet, P. 2010+. VASCAN, the database of vascular plants of Canada. http://data.canadensys.net/vascan/ Accessed August 12, 2021.

Darbyshire, S. J. 2003. Inventory of Canadian Agricultural Weeds. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Research Branch. Ottawa, ON.

DiTomaso, J. M. and Healy, E. A. 2007. Weeds of California and Other Western States. Vol. 1. 834 pp. University of California, CA.

Flora of North America (FNA) Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico [Online]. 22+ vols. New York and Oxford.  http://beta.floranorthamerica.org. Accessed December 29, 2022.

Frankton, C. and Mulligan, G. A. 1993. Weeds of Canada. Agriculture Canada, Publication 948.

Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) Secretariat. 2022. https://doi.org/10.15468/39omei Accessed via https://www.gbif.org/species/2873815 Accessed December 29, 2022.

Government of Canada (GC). 2016. Canadian Weed Seeds Order. https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-2016-93/page-2.html (English) https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/fra/reglements/DORS-2016-93/page-2.html (French)

International Seed Morphology Association (ISMA). 2020. Method for Seed Size Measurement. Version 1.0. ISMA Publication Guide.   https://www.idseed.org/authors/details/method_for_seed_size_measurement.html

Mabberley, D. J. 2008. Mabberley’s plant-book: A portable dictionary of plants, their classification and uses (3rd eds). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. 1021 pp.

Royer, F. and Dickinson, R. 1999. Weeds of Canada and the Northern United States. The University of Alberta Press/Lone Pine Publishing, Edmonton, Alberta.

Turkington, Roy, Kenkel, Norman, C. and Franko, Gail, D. 1980. The biology of Canadian weeds. 42. Stellaria media (L.) Vill. Canadian Journal of Plant Science 60: 981-992.

U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Services (USDA-ARS). 2021. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN), https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysimple.aspx Accessed August 12, 2021.



Jennifer Neudorf, Angela Salzl, Ruojing Wang, Karen Castro, Katrina Entwistle

Canadian Food Inspection Agency