This is an annual, but is also ephemeral as it can mature and produce seed in 5 to 6 weeks, so there can be several generations in a year; later germinated plants may overwinter. It forms a dense mat, smothering other plants; flopping stems root as they spread. Seed can remain dormant for many years, germinating when the ground is cultivated and this can be for up to 25 to 40 years. Some viable seed have been recovered from bird and animal droppings and ants are known to carry them away as well. However, if ground is cultivated for a few years and the plants are never allowed to mature, the amount of germination reduces to very little. It is probably the most common weed worldwide.
It is an alternative host to the Cucumber Mosaic Virus which also affects other cucurbits such as courgettes or marrows - the leaves go yellow and the plants die back.
When growing well the lush top-growth has a sweet, pea-like flavour and it can be added to
salads, made into a soup or a soup garnish. It is a source of vitamins A, B and
C, calcium and potassium so makes a tonic for poultry and caged birds - hence the common name.
It can be found in flower all year round, and is able to mature to seed at any time as well. The flowers are small, white and star-like with about ten petals and the pointed sepals behind them are longer.
Height - up to 30 cm, but usually prostrate.
Weedkillers to use:-
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