It is necessary to be very careful when harvesting it, since it is a very small plant that mixes with other herbs. Once chopped and stewed, it becomes a delicate and exquisite salad. This aquatic plant grows in streams or wells. In our town, in years of water we can find them in many streams and springs of wells, scarce when it has not rained in abundance. It is high in vitamin C (antiscorbutic properties)Not to be confused with “chicken grass” (Stellaria media), this can be found in orchards, gardens or field without abundant water (it is also edible).Collection: winter-spring.
Chickweed or water chickweed (Montia fontana)
Annual or perennial, sprawling, with cespitose growth on land and weak branching stems in water. Stems 5-40(-50) cm, branched at the bottom, with very fragile branches. Leaves glabrous narrowly cupped, up to 2 cm, opposite, simple, entire, uninerved, oblong-spatulate or linear-spatulate, with hyaline margin 3-20 x 1.5-6.5 mm. Flowers white, minute, with 5 petals spreading in leaf axils and terminal, hermaphrodite, arranged in terminal or lateral pauciflorous cymes; 3 sepals orbicular, persistent to 1 mm long. Fruit in globose capsule that opens in 3 valves. Shiny seeds with acute or subacute tubercles. It flowers in spring and summer.
Water chickweed (Montia Fontana) is an aquatic plant that grows in springs and streams with clean, shallow, slow-flowing water, where it weaves beautiful green carpets in the water.
In many places water chickweed, variously called boruja, spring grass or chervil, is consumed as a wild salad. It has a tender texture and a fine and delicious flavor. No wonder it is becoming one of the most prized salads in more than a few restaurants.
Among its properties, we have found that it is rich in Vitamin C, fiber and magnesium and is considered one of the best vegetable sources of Omega-3 fatty acids.
In some areas of Spain it was traditionally consumed as a salad. The boruja(Montia fontana) is a portulacaea associated with fontinal communities very common in mountain meadow springs in the province of Avila in Spain. In the upper Gredos also grows Montia fontana subsp. chondrosperma, which is distinguished by its matte seeds whose surface shows obtuse tubercles.
It is harvested for its consumption in salads. Occasionally it is sold in greengrocers in season and is included in the menu of some restaurants, especially in rural areas. They can be harvested from autumn onwards, but with an optimum period around April at the beginning of spring. The onset of heat is the time when the plant stops being harvested. The decline of the plant is associated with the song of the cuckoo and it is said that the boruja is acuca or “the cuckoo has sung it”. The appearance of the flower is the feature that indicates the decline. With flower “bitter”, “it is hard” or “it hurts the stomach”. Like other edible aquatic plants, it may have metacercariae of fasciola hepatica firmly attached to its surface. Humans and herbivorous mammals that eat aquatic plants carrying this microscopic form of the parasite develop severe liver disease.