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Sea Mouse-ear

Cerastium diffusum

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Caryophyllaceae (Pink)
Life Cycle:
Annual or Perennial
Maximum Size:
15 centimetres tall
Beaches, gardens, grassland, roadsides, rocky places, sand dunes, seaside, walls, wasteland.

White, 4 petals
The flowers are between 4 and 7mm across. The petals are notched and are much shorter than the pointed sepals. The sepals have translucent white edges but are difficult to see without taking a closer look. It is unusual for a species of Mouse-ear in that it has only got 4 petals, although occasionally it can have 5 petals. 4 or 5 stamens. 4 styles. Cream-coloured anthers. The bracts are all green.
A fruit capsule, measuring up to 8mm in length.
Stalkless leaves that are simple, opposite, long, oblong and lineal. The leaves are stickily hairy all over, just like the rest of the plant.
Other Names:
Fourstamen Chickweed, Four-stamened Chickweed, Spreading Mouse-ear Chickweed.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Cerastium diffusum, commonly known as spreading mouse-ear chickweed, is a species of flowering plant in the carnation family. It is native to Europe and Asia, but has been introduced to many other parts of the world as a weed. The plant has small, white, star-shaped flowers and hairy leaves and stems. It typically grows in disturbed areas, such as gardens and roadsides. It is considered a weed as it can grow rapidly and outcompete native plants, it can also cause problems for farmers as it can be a host for some plant pathogens.


Sea Mouse-ear, scientifically known as Cerastium diffusum, is a beautiful and unique flowering plant that can be found along the sandy beaches, dunes, and cliffs of the coastal regions of Europe and North America. It belongs to the Caryophyllaceae family and is known for its small, white, star-shaped flowers that bloom from May to September.

The Sea Mouse-ear plant grows up to a height of 15cm and has grey-green leaves that are hairy and oval-shaped. The flowers, which are the main attraction of the plant, are usually around 1cm in diameter and have five petals that are deeply notched, giving them a distinct star-like appearance. The flowers are held in clusters at the top of the stem and are surrounded by hairy, green sepals.

Sea Mouse-ear is a hardy plant that can tolerate the salty and windy conditions of coastal regions. It is also a great plant for stabilizing sandy soils and preventing erosion. The roots of the plant are able to penetrate deep into the sand, anchoring it firmly in place. As a result, it is often used for landscaping and re-vegetation projects in coastal areas.

Apart from its aesthetic and ecological value, Sea Mouse-ear also has medicinal properties. The plant contains a compound called saponin, which has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. It has been used in traditional medicine to treat a range of ailments, including coughs, colds, and digestive disorders.

Sea Mouse-ear is a popular ornamental plant and is widely cultivated in gardens and parks. It is a low-maintenance plant that requires little care, making it a great choice for gardeners who want to add some coastal charm to their gardens. The plant prefers well-drained soils and full sun exposure.

Sea Mouse-ear is a popular food source for many coastal animals, including rabbits, deer, and sheep. The plant is high in nutrients and provides a valuable source of food, especially during the winter months when other food sources may be scarce. Additionally, the plant is also an important habitat for many species of insects, including bees and butterflies, which feed on its nectar and pollen.

Sea Mouse-ear is also commonly used in herbal medicine. It has been traditionally used to treat various ailments such as rheumatism, cough, and digestive disorders. The plant is also believed to have diuretic and laxative properties, making it useful for treating urinary tract infections and constipation.

Furthermore, Sea Mouse-ear has a long history of use in traditional folklore and superstition. It was believed that carrying the plant could protect one from evil spirits and bring good luck. Additionally, the plant was also used in love spells and as an ingredient in magical potions.

Sea Mouse-ear is a self-pollinating plant, meaning that it does not rely on pollinators for reproduction. The plant produces both male and female flowers, and the pollen from the male flowers is able to fertilize the female flowers without the need for external pollination. This self-pollination mechanism allows the plant to reproduce even in harsh coastal environments where pollinators may be scarce.

In addition to its ecological and medicinal value, Sea Mouse-ear also has cultural significance. The plant has been used in traditional herbal medicine in many countries, including England, Scotland, and Ireland. In Celtic folklore, the plant was associated with the goddess Brigid, who was believed to protect the health of the community.

Sea Mouse-ear is also a popular ingredient in traditional cuisine in some regions. In Scotland, the plant is used to make a type of soup called Cullen skink, which is made with smoked haddock, potatoes, onions, and Sea Mouse-ear. The plant is also used in traditional Icelandic cuisine, where it is added to salads and soups.

Sea Mouse-ear is not only a beautiful plant but also a useful indicator of coastal erosion. The plant is often one of the first species to colonize coastal areas that have been destabilized by erosion, and its presence can indicate the beginning of the process of ecological succession. This process involves the gradual establishment of a community of plant species that can stabilize the soil and prevent further erosion. Therefore, monitoring the growth of Sea Mouse-ear and other pioneer species can help in identifying areas where erosion is a potential risk.

Sea Mouse-ear is also a plant with a long history of use in traditional medicine. In Europe, it has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory infections, gastrointestinal disorders, and skin irritations. The plant has also been used as a natural remedy for anxiety and stress, as it is believed to have calming and soothing effects on the body.

In addition to its medicinal properties, Sea Mouse-ear also has potential uses in the cosmetics industry. The plant contains flavonoids and other compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties make it a potentially valuable ingredient in skin care products, as it may help to reduce the signs of aging and improve skin health.

In conclusion, Sea Mouse-ear is a fascinating plant with a wide range of uses and benefits. Its hardiness, ecological value, and medicinal properties make it a valuable addition to coastal environments and gardens. Its cultural significance, use in traditional cuisine, and potential uses in the cosmetics industry add to its unique appeal. Whether as a stabilizer of coastal soils, a traditional remedy for common ailments, or a potential ingredient in skincare products, Sea Mouse-ear is a plant that is definitely worth exploring further.


Sea Mouse-ear filmed at Formby in Lancashire on the 8th May 2023.


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