Edible Weeds: Plants You Didn’t Know You Could Eat
You might be surprised at how many of the “weeds” you find in your garden are actually safe and delicious!
Uncultivated yards can be full of food. Many of these are actually wild cousins of gourmet crops. They often contain more nutrients than their cultivated kin. They are more flavorful and potent than cultivated crops. You may already have one or more of these species in your own yard. Read on if you would like to know more about foraging for common edible weeds.
Note: These are common species and they are not likely to be confused or misidentified with toxic species. You should still be 100 percent certain about the identity of any plant you eat.
This plant is not related to any other sorrels, despite its name. It shares a similar tangy taste. However, it has a different texture with soft, almost succulent foliage.
This weed’s thick, teardrop shaped leaves have a unique, succulent, mucilaginous texture. It is a cross between okra and spinach. When purslane is mixed with other weed species, its mild flavor balances the stronger flavors.
This is one the most popular garden weeds and also one of their most delicious. These make excellent substitutes for spinach in salads. Lamb’s quarters can reach up to head height, but they are more tender if the plants are no higher than your knee.
This is a very useful and hardy plant, which is also easy to harvest. The many medicinal and culinary uses of the leaves, roots, or flowers are endless. The easiest is to simply take the smaller leaves located in the center of a dandelions clump, which are most tender and least bitter. Once they have been chopped finely, you can add them to your salads. The yellow petals make a lovely garnish.
French sorrel is a closely related weed, which is a gourmet green that has a distinctively tangy taste. Although the arrow-shaped leaves are similar in flavor, they are smaller and slightly bitter. Although you wouldn’t eat a salad made only from this plant, it can be chopped finely and is delicious.
Curly dock leaves are another tangy cousin to French sorrel. They are larger than sheep sorrel. They can also be tougher so make sure to pick the young ones and only use them in salads.
This twining, sprawling plant has tiny leaves. For salads, you will want to collect the whole clumps of stems and leaves. Chickweed can be compared to baby lettuce for its tenderness and neutral taste.
Plantain leaves are a bit chewy and thick so they should be used sparingly in salads. Chop the tenderest, smallest leaves and chop them finely. They have a neutral flavor, but are packed with nutrients.
All violets and all violas have edible leaves, even the tiny weedy ones which often invade gardens and lawns. The delicate flowers are also delicious.
Garlic Mustard tastes similar to mustard greens, which it is closely related to, with a hint garlic flavor. The leaves can be eaten when they are young. However, if the plants get taller and produce flowers, then you can also eat them.