AMAZING EDIBLE WEEDS !!
Edible weeds are everywhere, if you only know where to look, and many edible weeds contain some amazing nutrition and health benefits.
Before you spray your yard with toxic chemicals think about harvesting those weeds for a great summer salad, herbal first aid salve, or super soup addition.
Here are 4 amazing, healthy and easy to identify edible weeds.
DON’T SPRAY THOSE WEEDS! EAT THEM!
Edible weeds – #1 Chickweed
Chickweed, is our first edible weed. It’s that pesky little weed those with a perfectly manicured yard just hate. However, did you know it is one of the best edible weeds? The leaves, stems, and flowers make a great addition to any salad or soup. It can also be used externally on wounds and rashes, or made into an oil, salve or ointment to keep for burns, rashes, and bug bites.
Used as food, typically raw, in salads, can also be steeped as a tea for medicinal purposes.
Edible parts: Chickweed leaves are used by adding them raw to salads and sandwiches. They can be tossed into soups and stews as well. When adding to a cooked dish, the stems and flowers can be used also.
Used in traditional folk medicine to treat bronchitis, female troubles, after childbirth, as a laxative (often used in spring salads as a spring “clean out” by old folks), for detox, kidney complaints, as a diuretic, antihistamine, for low milk production in new moms, and in soaps for skin ailments and rashes.
Chickweed contains Ascorbic-acid, Beta-carotene, Calcium, Coumarins, Genistein, Gamma-linolenic-acid, Flavonoids, Hentriacontanol, Magnesium, Niacin, Oleic-acid, Potassium, Riboflavin, Rutin, Selenium, Triterpenoid saponins, Thiamin, and Zinc.
Edible weeds – #2 Plantain
Our second of the edible weeds is plantain, another pesky yard “weed” hated by perfectionist, but loved by children for the shear joy of popping off the heads. Plantain is our go to herb for bee-stings and bug bites. My children have learned to identify it by age 4, and when stung they will immediately seek it out, chew up the leaves, and apply them to the sting. Relief is nearly instantaneous and swelling is kept to a minimum.
Used as food: You can use the leaves like spinach, young tender leaves go well in salads, however they become tough and bitter as they get bigger. Bigger leaves can be used in stews, and soups or mixed with other greens and cooked like collards or spinach. The leaves contain calcium and vitamin A. 100 grams of plantain leaves contain about as much vitamin A as a large carrot.
Used in medicine: The number one use for plantain leaves in medicine is as a skin soother. This plant is EXCELLENT for bug bites and bee stings. It goes well in soaps and salves to heal and sooth the skin. The leaves slightly blanched in boiling water and then cooled are AMAZINGLY soothing on burns. Keep some in the freezer, blanch in boiling water then place on a cookie sheet to freeze, remove, seal in a baggie and pull out one at a time as needed for first aid of burns, cuts, scrapes, stings, and infections. I have use plantain with other herbs in a salve to successfully treat impetigo and staff on the skin.
From Mountain Rose Herbs:
“Plantain has been used as a panacea in some Native American cultures and with some very good reasons. Many of its active constituents show antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, as well as being anti-inflammatory and antitoxic. The leaves, shredded or chewed, are a traditional treatment for insect and animal bites and the antibacterial action helps prevent infection and the anti-inflammatory helps to relieve pain, burning, and itching. There is some investigation ongoing to study its affects on lowering blood sugar.”
From Bulk Herb Store:
“Plantain leaf is a first rate “First Aid” plant that is usually close-at-hand, wherever you may be. A few fresh leaves, crushed or chewed, can be used to quickly stop the pain and inflammation of bites and stings, and relieve the itching from poison ivy. A cup of strong Plantain tea will quell the worst indigestion, and a small wad of chewed leaf placed next to the gum will quiet a painful toothache until it can be attended to. A simple ointment, made with an olive oil extract of fresh Plantain and a little beeswax is a very good general purpose remedy for many skin ailments, and is especially helpful with diaper rash.”
“Plantain is found all over the world, and is one of the most abundant and accessible medicinal herbs. It contains many bioactive compounds, including allantoin, aucubin, ursolic acid, flavonoids, and asperuloside.Scientific studies have shown that plantain extract has a wide range of biological effects, including “wound healing activity, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antioxidant, weak antibiotic, immuno modulating and antiulcerogenic activity”. For millennia, poultices of plantain leaves have been applied to wounds, sores, and stings to promote healing. The active constituents are the anti-microbial compound aucubin, the cell-growth promoter allantoin, a large amount of soothing mucilage, flavonoids, caffeic acid derivatives, and alcohols in the wax on the leaf surface. The root of plantain was also traditionally used to treat wounds, as well as to treat fever and respiratory infections. Due to its astringent properties, a tea of plantain leaves can be ingested to treat diarrhea or dysentery. Due to the high vitamin and mineral content, plantain tea simultaneously replenishes the nutrients lost as a result of diarrhea. Adding fresh plantain seeds or flower heads to a tea will act as an effective lubricating and bulking laxative and soothe raw, sore throats. When ingested, the aucubin in plantain leaves leads to increased uric acid excretion from the kidneys, and may be useful in treating gout.”
Edible weeds – #3 Dandelion
Dandelion: another pesky yard “weed” hated by perfectionist, loved by bees, one of their first foods of spring. We often use the yellow flowers to decorate a salad and the young leaves to make the salad. Dandelion is a great spring tonic weed, traditionally it has been used to cleanse the liver and build the blood. It’s also pretty tasty. In the winter we often used the dried root in herbal teas to help ward off colds and viruses.
Used as food: Dandelion leaves, flowers, and roots have been used for thousands of years as food. Sold in many “whole food/ real food” grocery stores for $4-$6 a bundle, it grows everywhere and could be easily harvested. Most commonly used are the leaves and flowers in salads. Roots are used in teas and tinctures. Picked young the leaves are tender and mild, picked later they are tough and stringy. The flowers are sweet when picked yellow and fresh.
Used in medicine: Traditionally used as part of spring tonics, dandelion has been proven to help heal the liver and as an effective diuretic.
“It has been used in herbal medicine to treat infections, bile and liver problems, and as a diuretic. Dandelion root is a registered drug in Canada, sold principally as a diuretic. A hepatoprotective (liver protective) effect in mice of chemicals extracted from dandelion root has been reported. Dandelion is used in herbal medicine as a mild laxative, for increasing appetite, and for improving digestion. The milky latex has been used as a mosquito repellent and as a folk remedy to treat warts.”
Excerpts from The How to Herb Book
“The dandelion we are talking about really is that little yellow weed in your lawn. All its parts are used – the leaves, flower and roots. It can be used fresh in green drinks and salads.
One of the best blood purifiers and builders available.
High in vitamins and minerals, especially calcium.
Contains all the nutritive salts for the blood. Dandelion restores and balances the blood so anemia that is caused by deficiencies of these blood salts disappears.
Overweight people when losing weight can become over acidic. These acids in the blood are destroyed by dandelion.
One of the best liver cleansers. It increases the activity of the liver and the flow of bile into the intestines.
Increases activity of the pancreas and the spleen.
Good for the female organs.
Helps open urinary passages.
Has been used in the following:
Low blood pressure
Edible weeds – #4 Redbud Blooms
Redbud blooms: those beautiful early spring blooms on Redbud trees.
Redbud Bloom Facts:
Used as food: The blooms of the Eastern Redbud tree appear in early spring. They are sweet and tangy and make a BEAUTIFUL topping on salads and other spring meals. They contain vitamin C to help you recoup from those winter yuckies. My children LOVE to snack on these while they are outside soaking up sunshine in the early spring.
Used as Medicine: There are no medicinal uses that I am currently aware of. They just taste good and look pretty.
TIPS FOR HARVESTING EDIBLE WEEDS
- Harvest from a CLEAN area. I can’t stress this enough. Do NOT harvest from roadsides, near areas that are sprayed or treated regularly, or near industrial parks. The toxins in the ground can be absorbed through the roots and deposited into edible weed parts.
- Do your research on the parts that are edible and how to prepare them. Some are best harvested young, some are better harvested in the fall, some roots are bitter and should be steeped for a lesser amount of time or crushed and encapsulate.
- Find an “edible weeds” class near you and learn about the other amazing edibles in your own back yard. You will be AMAZED at all the things you can harvest and eat.
- Make sure you are very familiar with the weed and very certain about identification. The weeds posted here are food grade, and typically easily identified. My favorite wild edibles book is:
Thanks for stopping in and please leave a comment telling me what your favorite edible weeds might be.
Who knows, maybe I’ll do a follow up “edible weeds” post from suggestions my readers leave.
For a tutorial on how to use some of these weeds in a great first aid salve try this post: