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Starwort Mouse-ear

Cerastium cerastoides

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Caryophyllaceae (Pink)
Life Cycle:
Annual or Perennial
Maximum Size:
20 centimetres tall
Fields, grassland, meadows, mountains, rocky places, wasteland.

White, 5 petals
Flowers measure between 9 and 12mm in size. 5 white petals, notched at their tips. Narrow, lance-shaped sepals with pale margins. Starwort Mouse-ear is the only mouse-ear species in the UK with 3 styles. 10 stamens.
The fruit is a cylindrical capsule.
A mat-forming perennial with oval to oblong leaves in opposite pairs along the stems. The leaves are hairless, stalkless and pale green. Can be found growing at high altitudes on mountains.
Other Names:
Mountain Chickweed, Mouse-ear Chickweed, Starwort Chickweed.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Other Information


Cerastium cerastoides, commonly known as mouse-ear chickweed, is a species of flowering plant in the Caryophyllaceae family. It is native to Europe and Asia, but has been introduced to many other parts of the world, including North America. It is a small, mat-forming perennial plant with small white flowers and leaves that are covered in fine white hair. It typically grows in a variety of habitats, including meadows, fields, and waste ground. It is considered an invasive species in some areas and can be difficult to control. Mouse-ear chickweed is edible and is sometimes used as a leaf vegetable or in salads.


Starwort Mouse-ear, scientifically known as Cerastium cerastoides, is a beautiful and resilient alpine plant that belongs to the family Caryophyllaceae. This charming plant is native to the mountainous regions of Europe, Asia, and North America, where it grows in rocky crevices, alpine meadows, and high-altitude pastures.


Starwort Mouse-ear is a small, herbaceous perennial plant that grows up to 20cm in height. The plant has a mat-forming growth habit and produces a dense carpet of bright green leaves that are densely arranged in a rosette at the base of the plant. The leaves are lance-shaped, with pointed tips, and are covered with fine white hairs, which give them a soft, velvety texture. The stems of the plant are thin, wiry, and reddish-brown in color, and they bear small, white, star-shaped flowers in late spring and early summer. The flowers have five petals and are about 1cm in diameter, and they bloom in clusters at the tips of the stems.


Starwort Mouse-ear is a hardy and easy-to-grow plant that is well-suited for alpine rock gardens, containers, and troughs. The plant prefers well-drained, moist, and fertile soil and requires full sun to thrive. It can tolerate a wide range of temperatures and can withstand freezing temperatures and drought. However, it is susceptible to root rot if grown in poorly-drained soil, so it is important to ensure that the soil is well-drained.


Starwort Mouse-ear can be propagated from seed or by dividing the clumps in early spring. To propagate from seed, the seeds should be sown in pots or trays in early spring and kept moist until they germinate. Once the seedlings are large enough, they can be transplanted into their final position. To propagate by division, the clumps should be lifted and carefully separated into smaller sections, each with a root system and some foliage. The new plants should be replanted immediately and watered thoroughly.


Starwort Mouse-ear has several medicinal and culinary uses. In traditional medicine, the plant has been used to treat respiratory ailments, digestive disorders, and skin conditions. The leaves and stems of the plant are edible and can be used in salads, soups, and stews. The plant is also used as a groundcover in rock gardens and as an ornamental plant in borders, edgings, and containers.

In conclusion, Starwort Mouse-ear is a charming and resilient alpine plant that is well-suited for rock gardens and other alpine planting schemes. With its velvety foliage and delicate, star-shaped flowers, this plant is sure to add a touch of beauty to any garden. Its hardiness and adaptability make it a great choice for gardeners of all levels of experience, and its medicinal and culinary uses add an extra dimension of interest to this already fascinating plant.

Some Facts

Starwort Mouse-ear, also known as Snow-in-Summer, is a plant that is beloved by many gardeners and nature enthusiasts for its hardiness, beauty, and versatility. Here are some more interesting facts about this fascinating plant:

  • The name Cerastium comes from the Greek word "keras" meaning horn, and refers to the shape of the seed capsule, which is long and slender like a horn.

  • Starwort Mouse-ear is often used as a green roof plant due to its ability to tolerate harsh conditions and its attractive appearance.

  • The plant is a favorite of bees and other pollinators, making it a great addition to pollinator gardens.

  • In traditional herbal medicine, Starwort Mouse-ear was used to treat coughs, colds, and other respiratory ailments. The leaves were made into a tea or infusion and consumed to soothe the respiratory system.

  • The plant is often used to stabilize slopes and prevent erosion due to its ability to form a dense mat of foliage.

  • Starwort Mouse-ear is a very long-lived plant, with some specimens reported to be over 100 years old.

  • The plant is native to many different regions of the world, including the Arctic tundra, the mountains of Central Asia, and the alpine regions of Europe and North America.

  • The leaves of Starwort Mouse-ear are sometimes used to make a tea that is said to have a pleasant, slightly sweet taste.

Overall, Starwort Mouse-ear is a fascinating and versatile plant that is well worth including in any alpine or rock garden. Its beauty, hardiness, and adaptability make it an excellent choice for gardeners who are looking for a low-maintenance plant that can thrive in a variety of different conditions.

Additional Information

Starwort Mouse-ear is not only a beautiful plant, but it also plays an important role in the ecosystem. It is often found in high-altitude habitats where other plants struggle to survive, and its dense mat of foliage helps to protect the soil and prevent erosion. The plant's flowers provide a valuable source of nectar for bees and other pollinators, which in turn helps to support the larger ecosystem.

In addition to its ecological benefits, Starwort Mouse-ear has a rich cultural history. In many cultures, the plant was believed to have magical properties and was used in various rituals and ceremonies. In some traditions, it was believed that carrying a sprig of the plant could protect a person from harm, while in others it was used to ward off evil spirits. In folklore, Starwort Mouse-ear was often associated with fairies and other mystical creatures.

Today, Starwort Mouse-ear continues to be appreciated for its beauty, resilience, and versatility. It is a popular choice for rock gardens, alpine gardens, and other planting schemes, and its hardiness and adaptability make it a great option for gardeners who are looking for a low-maintenance plant that can thrive in a variety of different conditions. Whether used as a groundcover or a decorative feature, Starwort Mouse-ear is sure to add a touch of natural beauty to any garden or landscape.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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