Virginia Pepperweed, pepper-grass, poor-man’s pepper
Description: winter or summer annual
Place of origin: eastern North America
Urban habitat: commonly found in minimally maintained parks, neglected residential and commercial landscapes, vacant lots, rubble dumps, highway banks and medians, roadsides, pavement openings; thrives in dry, compacted soils and full sun.
Ecological function: disturbance-adapted colonizer of bare ground; food for wildlife.
History: Cerastium vulgatum made its way to Europe after North American colonization and is currently naturalized there. Native Americans consumed this plant both cooked and raw, as well as utilizing it medicinally for treatment of poison ivy, tuberculosis, blisters, scurvy, and the croup. The flattened pods have a peppery taste and can be used as a seasoning and the young leaves used in salads or cooked as greens.