If you think everything in your yard that isn’t grass must be a nuisance, you’re missing out on a free lunch. Those pesky weeds invading your lush green patch of paradise are actually valuable foods loaded with antioxidants vitamins and protein. Sometimes even more nutritious than what you’ll find at the grocery store. Here are six such edible backyard weeds:
- Chickweed. This garden weed is a great source of vitamin A, C and D as well as iron, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and zinc. Chickweed has a delicate flavor much like spinach and works well when freshly, picked and added to sandwiches and salads. If you don’t like the taste you can still reap the benefits by hiding it in soups and stews. Medicinally chickweed can be used as a topical treatment for minor cuts, burns, eczema and rashes. It’s also a mild diuretic and is said to release the status and irritable bladder symptoms.
- Dandelion probably the most well known of all weeds. The great news is there’s probably a ton of this nutritious weed in your backyard. Dandelions have been used throughout history to treat everything from liver problems and kidney disease to heartburn and appendicitis. Every part of this common weed is edible from the roots to the blossom. Use the leaves for sandwiches and stir-fries. The roots can be made into a herbal tea or roasted and ground as a coffee substitute. The sweet flower heads will add color to salads and can be used to make wines.
- Chicory. This light blue flower lives as a wild roadside plant. Despite its somewhat bitter taste, chicory leaves are commonly consumed in certain parts of Europe including Italy and Greece. Try boiling the leaves first before sauteing or adding to dishes as that will remove some of the bitterness. Chicory is well known for its toxicity to internal parasites and can also be used as a tonic to stimulate appetite. Act as a diuretic to cure an upset stomach and help with constipation.
- Curly dock. Curly dock is one of the hardiest and most widespread weeds so you should have no trouble the source. The leaves are high in beta-carotene, vitamin C and zinc ensuring good immunity. And the sieve are rich in calcium and fiber. The stems of the curly dock can be peeled and eaten either cooked or raw. And the mature seeds can be roasted to make an earthy warm drink.
- Common Mallow unlike its name suggests the flavor of this plant is nothing like marshmallow. Tea made from common mallow roots forms a gelatinous mixture which is soothing for the digestive and genital-urinary tracts.
- Lamb’s quarters. This rapidly growing summer weed produces black seeds which are related to the protein rich superfood quinoa. Much their cousin you can enjoy the shoots and leaves of the plant whether raw or sauteed. They make a great replacement for spinach and are just as nutritious.
Other edible weeds include purslane, clover, plantain and wild amaranth. Which weeds have you got in your backyard?
- Chickweed has a delicate flavor
- can be used as treatment for minor cuts
- You can treat everything
- To eat from roots to the blossoms
- the leaves are high in carotene
- the seeds are rich in calcium
- mature seeds can be roasted
- earthy warm drink
- related to the protein rich quinoa
- To enjoy whether raw or sauteed
- great replacement for spinach
Edible weeds vocabulary exercise interactive
Check out “Hairy panic” lesson plan about this strange weed!