Mouse-ear chickweed

From Bugwoodwiki

C. fontanum
Scientific Name
Cerastium fontanum
Common Names
common mouse-ear chickweed, common chickweed

Mouse-ear chickweed (Cerastium vulgatum)

Compiled by Lowell Sandell, University of Nebraska, Lincoln

and Marjolein Schat, Montana State University from the following sources:

Identification and Life Cycle

Mouse-ear chickweed (Cerastium vulgatum) is a prostrate perennial broadleaf weed in the pink family (Caryophyllaceae). A Synonym for C. vulgatum is C. fontanum. Stems root at the nodes to form dense patches. Seed leaves are rounded and lack hairs. True leaves are opposite, rounded on the ends, and are sessile (attached to the stem without a stalk). Hairs are prominent on the upper leaf surface and on stems. Small, white, inconspicuous flowers are formed in clusters at the end of stems and have five petals. Each petal is so deeply divided that flowers often appear to have ten petals rather than five. Seedpods are cylindrical, 0.3 to 0.4 inches long and straw colored. Seed pods are open at one end with 10 small teeth. Each pod contains up to 40 reddish brown seeds 0.03 inches long.


Mouse-ear chickweed can grow in a wide range of habitats and is found gardens, lawns, cultivated fields, pastures, wet depressions, rocky outcrops, dry sandy soils, and under moist forest canopies.


Mouse-ear chickweed is a weed of winter small grains, no-till cropping systems, landscaping and turf grass. Mouse-ear chickweed is also a host for cucumber mosaic virus.

Biology and Ecology

Mouse ear chickweed can propagate from root fragments, horizontal stems that root from nodes, or seed. Mouse-ear chickweed blooms in winter and early spring, and flowering and seed set continue until freeze-up in fall. Plants can begin producing seed as early as five weeks after emergence and new seed can germinate the season it is produced. Seeds can also remain viable in the soil for up to 40 years, however 95% of seeds lose their viability after 6 to 9 years. Seeds can be spread as contaminants in clover and grass seed, and by animals.

Management Approaches

Management approaches should be focused on preventing flowering and seed set.

Biological Control

There are no commercially available biological control agents available for mouse-ear chickweed.

Mechanical and Cultural Control

Deep cultivation and early sown cereal grains can keep mouse-ear chickweed in check. Cultivation should be done early and is more effective when the soil is dry. Cultivation after plants are large can lead to spread of the weed due to cut stems rooting.

Chemical Control

A variety of chemical control options are available to control mouse-ear chickweed. For herbicide recommendations for specific grain rotations and weeds in Montana, please see the MSU Herbicide Chooser Tool.

Examples of herbicides that can be used to manage mouse-ear chickweed

Consult herbicide labels for additional rate, application, and safety information. Additional herbicide information can be found at

Herbicide Active Ingredient trade name Mode of Action Product per Acre Application Time or Growth Stage
Metribusin Photosynthesis inhibitor (Photosystem II)
*Sencor 1.33 pounds Apply in fall or spring when alfalfa is dormant and mouse-ear chickweed is less than 2 inches tall.
Dry Peas and Lentils
Paraquat Membrane disruptor
*Gramoxone Inteon 1.2-2 pints Apply when the crop is mature and at least 80% of the pods are yellowing and no more than 40% (bush type peas) or 30% (vine type peas and lentils) of leaves are still green in color.
Grasses Grown for Seed
Dicamba Action like indole acetic acid (synthetic auxins)
*Clarity 8-32 ounces Apply 8 - 16 fluid ounces per treated acre on seedling grass after the crop reaches the 3 - 5 leaf stage. Apply up to 32 fluid ounces on well-established perennial grass. For best performance, apply when weeds are in the 2 - 4 leaf stage.
Dicamba Action like indole acetic acid (synthetic auxins)
*Clarity 2-4 ounces Apply 2 - 4 fluid ounces to fall-seeded barley prior to the jointing stage. Apply 2 - 3 fluid ounces before spring-seeded barley exceeds the 4-leaf stage. For best performance, apply when weeds are in the 2 - 3 leaf stage.
Dicamba Action like indole acetic acid (synthetic auxins)
*Clarity 2-4 ounces Apply 2 - 4 fluid ounces to wheat unless using one of the fall-seeded wheat specific programs on the label. Early season applications to fall-seeded wheat must be made prior to the jointing stage. Early season applications to spring-seeded wheat must be made before wheat exceeds the 6-leaf stage.
Rangeland, Permanent Grass Pasture, CRP Acres
2,4-D; picloram Action like indole acetic acid (synthetic auxins)
*Grazon P+D 2 - 4 pints Picloram is a restricted use product. Apply prior to bud stage when weeds are actively growing.

The information herein is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and that listing of commercial products, necessary to this guide, implies no endorsement by the authors or the Extension Services of Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming or Montana. Criticism of products or equipment not listed is neither implied nor intended. Due to constantly changing labels, laws and regulations, the Extension Services can assume no liability for the suggested use of chemicals contained herein. Pesticides must be applied legally complying with all label directions and precautions on the pesticide container and any supplemental labeling and rules of state and federal pesticide regulatory agencies. State rules and regulations and special pesticide use allowances may vary from state to state: contact your State Department of Agriculture for the rules, regulations and allowances applicable in your state and locality.


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