Sticky Mouse-eared Chickweed

Cerastium glomeratum Thuill.

Synonyms - Cerastium viscosum, Cerastium vulgatum.

Family: Caryophyllaceae.

Names:

Cerastium is from the Greek word kerastes meaning horned and refers to the shape of the capsule.
Sticky Mouse eared Chickweed refers to the sticky nature of the mouse eared shaped leaves.

Other Names:

Mouse eared Chickweed

Summary:

A hairy, hollow stemmed, annual herb with tight clusters of white flowers in spring with 5 lobed petals. The opposite leaves look like mouse ears.

Description:

Cotyledons:

Two. The cotyledon is 1.5 to 6 mm long overall, oval, with a short merging petiole and is hairless though some hairs may be present at the base of the petiole. The tip is slightly pointed. Base tapered. The seedling has a short hypocotyl and a short epicotyl.

First leaves:

The leaves are paired and in the early stages are 5 to 10 mm long overall, oval, with a short petiole. Long hairs are present on the upper and lower leaf surfaces and the leaves are yellowish/green in colour. There is a small point on the tip.

Leaves:

The plant does not form a rosette. Opposite leaves, united at the base to encircle the stem.
Stipules - None
Petiole - Short and shorter in later leaves or none.
Blade - Often sticky to touch, light green, hairy, egg shaped to lance or spade shaped like a mouse's ear. Glandular and or simple and or multi cellular hairs. Tip pointed.
Stem leaves - Upper stem leaves are egg shaped to oblong or elliptical, sessile and semi-clasping with an obtuse or acute tip. They are 5-25 mm long x 3-12 mm wide, glandular and simple hairs, and are yellow/green in colour. In some cases the glandular hairs which are normally a distinctive feature in this species are present in small numbers only.

Stems:

Initially erect but tend to become prostrate and straggling in older plants. Many branched at the base and reach 70-450 mm vertically or 500 mm when horizontal. They are circular in cross section and hollow with both glandular and simple hairs.

Flower head:

Compact, forked cyme at the ends of stems.

Flowers:

5 to 10 mm in diameter. Bisexual. Flower stalks, slender, 2-7 mm long, shorter than the sepals.
Bracts - leafy.
Ovary - 5 (rarely 3-4) styles opposite the sepals. 1 celled, numerous ovules.
Sepals - 5, 4-5 mm long, free. Narrowly egg shaped, leafy with membranous, translucent edges. Tip acute to pointed. Upper hairs extend beyond the membranous tip.
Petals - White with five petals deeply divided into two lobes or notched. Narrowly egg shaped. Rarely absent. Same length or slightly longer than the sepals. Hairs near the base.
Stamens - 10 or less.
Anthers - Tiny. Circular in outline.

Fruit:

Straight or curved, shiny, membranous, cylindrical capsule, 5-10 mm long x 1.5-2 mm wide. Twice as long as the sepals. Opens at the top. 6-10 teeth at the top.

Seeds:

Many, small, almost globular, 0.5 mm diameter , light brown, egg shaped, obscurely angled, Surface finely warty or dimpled, grooved on one side with a ridge at right angles to it.

Roots:

Key Characters:

10 stamens. 5 petals with hairs at the base. Petals about the same length as the sepals.
White flowers.
Hollow round stems.
Opposite leaves that look like mouse ears.
169 has a key for 10 Argentinean species.
170 has foliar anatomy.

Biology:

171 has crude protein and mineral data.

Life cycle:

Annual. Germination occurs in autumn and spring. They dry off quickly as soil moisture declines.

Physiology:

Reproduction:

By seed.

Flowering times:

July to January in SA.
Mainly spring in NSW.
August to November in Perth.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Probably forms a persistent seed bank (172).
Has no secondary dormancy (173).
174 has correlations between emergence and weather data.

Vegetative Propagules:

Hybrids:

Allelopathy:

Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Often builds up after 'spray grazing' with hormone herbicides because it is relatively tolerant and it replaces the controlled broadleaf species.
Tends to decrease as NPK levels rise (175).
Response to grazing is variable with reports of increased density as stocking rates are increased (176) and increased at low stocking rates (177).

Origin and History:

Europe. Cosmopolitan.

Distribution:

ACT, NSW, NT, QLD, SA, TAS, VIC, WA.
Distributed throughout Tasmania.
Argentina (169), Cape Verde Islands (178), China (174), Germany (179), Greece (180), Iran (170), Italy (175), Japan (173), Nepal (181), New Zealand (182), Portugal (183).

Courtesy Australia's Virtual Herbarium.

Habitats:

Climate:

Mediterranean. Temperate.
More common in higher rainfall areas.

Soil:

Prefers loams.

Plant Associations:

Woodlands.

Significance:

Weed of canola (184), lucerne (185), wheat (186), orchards (183), organic crops (187), ornamentals (188),pastures (176), rice (189)
Weed of footpaths and cracks in concrete (190).

Beneficial:

Fodder but not very palatable.

Detrimental:

Weed of disturbed areas, pastures, vegetables, turf, wood lands and gardens.
It is commonly found in most arable crops and in pasture in the establishment stages.
Hosts insects such as Thrips palmi ().191
Hosts diseases such as beet mosaic potyvirus (BtMV) (180), Ralstonia solanacearum bacterium (181),

Toxicity:

Not recorded as toxic.

Legislation:

None.

Management and Control:

Thresholds:

If present in large numbers it is capable of offering considerable competition to a crop.

Eradication strategies:

A number of non hormone herbicides provide good control.

Herbicide resistance:

Biological Control:

Related plants:

Balearic Mouse eared Chickweed (Cerastium balearicum)
Curtis' Mouse-eared Chickweed (Cerastium pumilum)
Levantine Mouse-eared Chickweed (Cerastium comatum) has established at Hillman Nature Reserve near Darkan and a reserve near Wickepin.
Little Mouse eared Chickweed. (Cerastium semidecandrum)
Mouse-eared Chickweed (Cerastium fontanum or holosteoides)
Sea Mouse-eared Chickweed (Cerastium diffusum)

Plants of similar appearance:

Sticky Mouse-ear Chickweed is extremely difficult to distinguish from Mouse-ear Chickweed in the early stages. In the mature plant the yellow/green colour and the much broader base of the leaf distinguishes it from the latter. The inflorescence is very much more tightly clustered than that of Mouse-ear Chickweed. The presence of large numbers of glandular hairs on the stem and leaves will confirm the identification of this species but individuals with relatively few or no glandular hairs are not uncommon. The Mouse-ear Chickweeds are, in the seedling stage, superficially similar to Chickweed and Montia. The presence of hairs on the leaves separate the Mouse-ear Chickweeds from these other species. Chickweed leaves have a long thin petiole. The leaves of Montia are relatively thick, stiff, and fleshy.
Cerastium holosteoides, C. fontanum ssp. triviale, C. vulgatum are very similar to C. glomeratum but are perennial.
Australian Crassula, Dense Crassula, Spreading Crassula (Crassula spp.)
Chickweed (Stellaria media)
Four-leaved Allseed (Polycarpon tetraphyllum)
Pearlwort (Sagina apetala)
Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis)
Waterblinks (Montia spp.)
Pigweed (Portulaca spp.)

References:

Auld, B.A. and Medd R.W. (1992). Weeds. An illustrated botanical guide to the weeds of Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P143. Diagram. Photo.

Black, J.M. (1965). Flora of South Australia. (Government Printer, Adelaide, South Australia). P354. Diagram.

Burbidge, N.T. and Gray, M. (1970). Flora of the Australian Capital Territory. (Australian National University Press, Canberra). P164-165. Diagram.

Cunningham, G.M., Mulham, W.E., Milthorpe, P.L. and Leigh, J.H. (1992). Plants of Western New South Wales. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P300. Photo.

Hyde-Wyatt, B.H. and Morris, D.I. (1975). Tasmanian weed handbook. (Tasmanian Department of Agriculture, Hobart, Tasmania). P76-77. Diagrams.

Lamp, C. and Collet, F. (1990). A Field Guide to Weeds in Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne).

Lazarides, M. and Hince, B. (1993). CSIRO handbook of economic plants of Australia. (CSIRO, Melbourne). #285.5.

Marchant, N.G., Wheeler, J.R., Rye, B.L., Bennett, E.M., Lander, N.S. and Macfarlane, T.D. (1987). Flora of the Perth Region. (Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Agriculture, Western Australia). P105.

Wilding, J.L. et al. (1987). Crop weeds. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P90. Diagrams. Photos.

Acknowledgments:

Collated by HerbiGuide. Phone 08 98444064 or www.herbiguide.com.au for more information.