We all have them lurking somewhere
within the landscape, or our gardens. WEEDS! They drive us nuts as we
tirelessly pick, pull, hoe, spray and curse their presence. But did you know
that many of these pesky plants have another more endearing and useful side?
What if you could look at them differently, almost lovingly? What?! It’s true.
A number of common weeds are actually edible and, as such, can be welcome
additions to our gardens instead of the bane of our existence.
Here are 10 surprising “weed” plants
you can eat:
Dandelion. The quintessential “weed,” dandelion
plants are easily identifiable, ubiquitous, and completely edible.
Eat the young greens and flowers raw in salads, or cook up the more mature
leaves and roots like any other vegetable.
Nettles. The leaves of stinging
nettles have to be cooked thoroughly in order to wilt those prickly
hairs, but once they are, these plants are quite tasty and can be used like any
Chickweed. A common weed that grows in mats
with tiny white flowers, chickweed
is a plant that normally drives gardeners insane. That needn’t be the case,
however. The leaves of this plant can actually be eaten raw or cooked and are
extremely high in iron.
Purslane. Another matting weed that seems to
pop up overnight, this plant’s succulent leaves and stems have a somewhat
acidic taste and are very high in calcium, iron, vitamin C, and omega-3 fatty
acids. Now you have a reason to keep those purslane
Chicory. While chicory is often viewed as a
weed, the plant’s pretty blue flowers actually make wonderful additions to an
ornamental bed. But that’s not all it’s good for. The leaves can be used in
teas or as greens, and the roots (along with the leaves) also make an
exceptional coffee substitute.
Violet. You may become annoyed with all
violets popping up in the yard, but these flowers, like their pansy
relatives, can be useful in the kitchen. Both the leaves and flowers (which
bloom in late winter and early spring) are edible and rich in vitamins with a delicate,
slightly minty flavor.
Daylily. We often refer to these tenacious
orange flowers as ditch lilies, as the plants can be commonly found growing along
roadsides and in ditches, as well as throughout our gardens. But did you know
these old-fashioned daylilies
are edible? That’s right. The shoots, buds, flowers and tubers are edible, and
nothing beats those fried daylily flower fritters.
sometimes also called wild spinach, this leafy green weed can be eaten raw or
cooked, just like its more traditional namesake. It is loaded with nutrients
such as iron, protein, and vitamin B2.
Plantain. Not to be confused with the
banana-like fruit, broadleaf
plantain is a low-growing weed native to Eurasia that produces
edible leaves and seed shoots, sometimes called poor man’s asparagus.
Cattail. We love the looks of the
corn-dog-like appearance of cattails,
but not necessarily their invasiveness in pond areas. That said, these famous
water plants are actually almost entirely edible. Early in the season the brown
tops can be steamed and eaten just like corn on the cob (they even have a
similar flavor). The leaves and stems can also be boiled and eaten.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article is for educational and
gardening purposes only. Before using or ingesting ANY herb or plant for
medicinal purposes or otherwise, please consult a physician, medical herbalist
or other suitable professional for advice.