Woodlouse is a remarkable herb that is popular with garden plots and other places favorable for its development and flowering.
You can recognize and distinguish this plant from other weeds by its characteristic external signs.
A seemingly unremarkable wood lice has a number of useful trace elements and is used for many cosmetic purposes, as well as for preparing salads, first courses and drinks.
In this article, you can find out more information about this plant.
What is it and a brief botanical description
Wood lice or stellaria medium (Stellaria media) belongs to the class of dicotyledonous herb of the Clove family. It is one year old. Popularly, the plant is also called canary grass, wood lice, heart grass, biting midge or hernia.
This herb received the name "wood lice" for the stem, covered with fine hairs, and cilia located at the edges of the leaves, when touched with which moisture remains on the palms.
The plant likes to be located in dark places near houses, in vegetable gardens, thrives in wet fields and forest areas, it can also be found in ditches and ravines. Prefers loose and moist soils. Blooms from May to September.
One plant leaves in the soil up to 15 thousand seeds per season. Seeds can remain viable for up to 5 years. Reproduction occurs vegetatively by rooting the stems.
Woodlice can predict the weather: if its flowers do not open at sunrise and remain closed all day, it will rain.
Contains a lot of carotene and ascorbic acid. In cooking, raw wood lice is added to salads, in boiled form - in borscht and main courses.
Due to the long flowering, woodlice is considered a good honey plant. As a medicinal plant, woodlice is used in folk medicine. and homeopathy (you can find out about contraindications and useful properties of woodlice here).
Animals consume it with pleasure. It is recommended to add this herb of the most valuable biological properties to the feed for pigs, chickens and pigs every day.
What does it look like?
Woodlice has a creeping, branched, cylindrical stem 10 - 30 cm in height, due to which moisture is constantly collected from the air into the plant.
The hairs covering the stem are arranged along one row. But in different internodes, the rows can go alternately. The root has a pivotal expanded form of short length. The plant can be easily pulled out of the ground. It grows in dense, enveloping rows, covering the available space.
Small (no more than 2 cm in width and length), ovoid, pointed. The leaves located at the bottom of the plant tend to concentrate on its petioles. The upper leaves are sessile. In general, the leaf arrangement is opposite.
They resemble small white stars (thanks to them, the plant was nicknamed the starlet). On long pedicels there are bipartite petals, which are identical in size to the calyx, and sometimes they are much smaller. Most often, 5 stamens can be found on one flower., in rare cases, their number can be up to 10 pieces.
Ripening of stamens occurs in the following order: first, the process of growth of internal stamens is activated, then external, and finally stigmas ripen.
Among the stamens there is 1 pistil with 3 columns. In this case, the calyx is separate-leaved.
Woodlice fruits resemble externally a small oblong box, in which there are 6 valves. The valves contain numerous seeds of a kidney-shaped or round shape, which perfectly tolerate cold and can survive all winter even under snow.
Next, you can familiarize yourself with the photos showing the wood lice weed in close-up:
How to distinguish from other similar herbs in appearance?
The lanceolate herb is very similar to woodlice, which is also called forest stellate or hard-leaved stellate. Its difference from wood lice is that lanceolate stellate is a perennial plant with a thin creeping rhizome. Wood lice grows 1 time per season, leaving behind a lot of hardy seeds.
In these representatives of the genus starlet, flowers are very similar in description, but there is a characteristic difference in the leaves. Lanceolate stellate has leaves pointed at the ends; in woodlice, they are round.
By the end of the flowering season, the lanceolate stellate reaches a length of about 35 cm (there are also plants up to 60 cm), which is much larger than the size of wood lice.
Besides, in forest zones, plants that look like woodlice can be found, but not one of them has the property inherent only in this herb - to leave wet marks on palms and shoes. Therefore, it is quite difficult to confuse woodlice with other grass in dry weather.
Due to the distinctive property of woodlice to accumulate and store moisture in its stem, and to use it for survival in dry and hot weather, it is considered amazing and unique in its nutritional and health properties. Many gardeners and summer residents undeservedly destroy this weed, not attaching importance to its value.
It is important to understand that wood lice can cure many ailments of a person, and for gardening purposes, help the soil retain moisture due to its close proximity to it. The small length and width of the plant does not obscure the fruit crops and does not cause visible harm to the shrubs growing in the garden.