Open the Advanced Search

Grey Mouse-ear

Cerastium brachypetalum

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Caryophyllaceae (Pink)
Life Cycle:
Annual or Perennial
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, grassland, hedgerows, lawns, meadows, roadsides, sand dunes, walls, wasteland, woodland.

White, 5 petals
Flowers measure 8 to 11mm across. The sepals are hairy. The bracts are green. The petals are deeply notched.
A long, brown, cylindrical, stalked, hairy capsule. Up to 1.5cm long.
A silvery grey plant with hairs, purple at their bases. The leaves are lance-shaped and in opposite pairs.
Other Names:
Gray Chickweed, Gray Mouse-ear Chickweed.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Grey mouse-ear or common mouse-ear chickweed, is a subspecies of Cerastium fontanum. It is native to Europe, Asia and North America. It is a widespread weed that can be found in gardens, lawns, roadsides and other disturbed areas. The plant has small, white, star-shaped flowers and hairy leaves and stems. It has leaves that are arranged in a basal rosette and it has short, thick stems that branch from the base. 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.


Grey Mouse-ear, scientifically known as Cerastium brachypetalum, is a small, herbaceous perennial plant that is commonly found in the temperate regions of Europe and Asia. The plant belongs to the family Caryophyllaceae, which includes many other well-known species such as carnations and pinks.

The Grey Mouse-ear plant typically grows to a height of about 10-20 cm and has a spread of up to 30 cm. Its stems are thin and covered with short, white hairs, giving the plant a woolly appearance. The leaves of the plant are also covered with these white hairs, and are oval in shape with pointed tips. The flowers are typically white or pale pink in color and have five petals, each measuring about 1-2 cm in diameter.

The Grey Mouse-ear plant is a hardy species that can tolerate a wide range of growing conditions. It can be found growing in open fields, meadows, hedgerows, and on rocky slopes. The plant prefers well-drained soil and full sunlight, but can also grow in partial shade.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Grey Mouse-ear plant is its ability to attract a wide variety of pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and moths. The flowers of the plant are rich in nectar, and the plant's woolly appearance provides a safe haven for small insects to take shelter.

In addition to its ornamental value, the Grey Mouse-ear plant has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. In traditional medicine, the plant was used to treat a variety of ailments, including coughs, colds, and digestive problems. It was also used as a diuretic and astringent.

Today, the Grey Mouse-ear plant is primarily grown for its ornamental value. Its compact size and attractive flowers make it a popular choice for rock gardens, borders, and container plantings. The plant is also used as a ground cover in areas where other plants struggle to grow.

The Grey Mouse-ear plant has a long history of use in traditional medicine. The plant's leaves and stems are rich in tannins, which have astringent properties that can help to reduce inflammation and soothe irritated skin. The plant has also been used to treat wounds and cuts, as the tannins in the plant help to tighten and protect the skin.

In addition to its medicinal properties, the Grey Mouse-ear plant is also a popular culinary herb. The plant's leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C and calcium, and can be used as a flavorful addition to salads, soups, and other dishes.

The Grey Mouse-ear plant is also an important part of many ecosystems. The plant's dense growth habit and woolly appearance provide shelter for a wide variety of small animals and insects. The plant's flowers are an important source of nectar for many pollinators, including bees and butterflies, and the plant's leaves are a food source for some caterpillars.

Despite its many benefits, the Grey Mouse-ear plant is considered to be an invasive species in some parts of the world. The plant's ability to rapidly spread and grow in a variety of conditions has led to concerns about its impact on native ecosystems. It is important to carefully manage the growth of the Grey Mouse-ear plant and to avoid introducing it to areas where it could become a problem.

One interesting fact about the Grey Mouse-ear plant is that it has been used in the production of paper. The plant's fibers can be used to create a type of paper that is strong and durable, making it a useful material for a variety of applications.

In addition to its use in paper production, the Grey Mouse-ear plant has also been used in dyeing. The plant's leaves and stems can be boiled to create a yellow-green dye that was used to color wool and other textiles.

The Grey Mouse-ear plant is also a popular subject for artists and photographers. The plant's delicate flowers and woolly appearance make it a beautiful and intriguing subject for creative endeavors.

Despite its many uses and benefits, the Grey Mouse-ear plant is considered to be a threatened species in some parts of its native range. Habitat loss, overgrazing, and other factors have led to declines in the plant's population. It is important to protect and conserve the Grey Mouse-ear plant and other species like it to ensure their survival for generations to come.

In conclusion, the Grey Mouse-ear plant is a versatile and fascinating species that offers a range of benefits and uses. From its medicinal properties to its role in supporting wildlife and its use in paper production and dyeing, this small plant has had a big impact on human society and the natural world. By learning more about the Grey Mouse-ear plant and working to protect it, we can help to ensure that it continues to thrive for years to come.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map