Most home owners and gardeners spend hours every summer killing weeds in their lawn and garden. They don over-the- shoulder canisters filled with chemicals, a mask and gloves every Saturday and head outdoors to do battle with their green enemies. But as those who fight this summertime battle already know, those little green enemies are a formidable foe and keep coming back again and again. Maybe it’s time to make peace with these plants and look at them from a new perspective. Many of these weeds we try in vain to kill are not poisonous weeds, but are actually edible. They can add a rich taste and nutritional value to salads, stir fry or stews, and best of all, they’re free for the picking. Learn the art of identifying edible weeds and give some of these 10 edible weeds a taste test, you just may discover a fondness for their flavor.
With flat green green leaves that grow low to the ground and bright yellow flower that children can’t resist picking, dandelions are well known lawn weeds.
The leaves of these wild greens have a bitter flavor and the bigger the leaves, the more bitter the flavor. The flowers and stems are sweet and crunchy.( See also edible flowers)
2- Clover Weed
While hunting for a 4-leafed clover for luck, pick a few extra to chop into a soup or salad. The leaves can be dried and made into tea. Identifying edible weeds doesn’t get any easier than clover.
Chickweed has a a 6 inch stem with small round leaves and produces small white flowers in top of a mature plant. The entire chickweed plant can be eaten raw or cooked and has a spinach-like flavor.
Chickweed also has medicinal uses and can be brewed into a tea and used a diuretic or made into a poultice and applied to minor cuts and burns.
4- Curly Dock Edible
This wild plant produces long edible leaves that curl and both leaves and stems can be eaten. The leaves have a tart taste. The seed of curly dock weed can be dried and brewed as a substitute for coffee.
5- Lamb’s Quarters
These edible plants is also called goosefoot because of the size and shape of the leaves. It can be eaten raw, steamed or sauteed and offer a flavor and texture much like spinach. Seeds from lamb’s quarters are edible and have a flavor like quinoa.
Not to be confused with the fruit that goes by the same name, this little weed that grows in gardens and landscape across the country is one that children are very familiar with. Plantains have low-growing broad leaves with spikes of green seed pods that are easy for kids to strip off and throw at each other.
The young leaves of this edible weed can be raw, steamed, boiled or sauteed. As the plant matures, the leaves become tough, so pick them while they are small and tender.
The seed pods can be cooked and eaten like a grain or ground into a flour for variety of cooking uses. The seed pods are rich in fiber and provide the same digestive benefits as psyllium seeds.
The plantain weed has also medicinal uses and can be ground and used as a topical onitment on minor cuts, rashes and burns.
Mallow has a seed pod that resembles cheese and that causes this edible weed to also be known as cheeseweed. Both leaves and seed pods are edible and can be enjoyed raw or cooked. The polder plant leaves tend to be tough, so harvest leaves while mallow is small.
Also known as wild amaranth, is a fast growing and tall edible weed that seems to pop up overnight as a garden weed. The large, flavor leaves can be used in any dish that calls for leafy greens, either raw or cooked. The long seed pods which sprout from the weed top can be gathered and cook in the same way as store-bought amaranth, either cooked of ground.
Purslane spreads along the soil in any moist, shady area and it’s high omega-3 content makes it an edible weed well worth hunting for and adding to your dinner plate. This edible weed is a succulent that has a crispy texture and peppery taste and adds a nice crunch to salads. Purslane is also used as a thickening agent for soups and stews.
10- Queen Anne’s Lace
Also known as wild carrots, Queen Anne’s lace produces a large head of tiny white flowers that resemble lace. The flower heads are good to eat raw, but are typically lightly battered and deep fried. The seeds can be can be added to soups and stews, or brewed into a tea.