Did you know many common weeds are edible — AND delicious? Not to mention incredibly nutritious. Yes, there are numerous weeds you can eat!
It’s that time of year when weeds are evvvvverywhere, and homeowners look at their gardens and sigh.
Not me! I give a little cheer and get to harvesting all that delicious, healthy, free food! Ingredients for salads, smoothies, and pizza toppings abound in our yard long before anything I planted is ready to harvest.
Is your yard overrun by dandelions? Purslane? Don’t despair. It turns out these are weeds you can eat, which are not only tasty but brimming with nutrients.
Maybe in time you’ll stop seeing them as weeds, but as valuable and nutritious additions to your edible landscape!
Always consult a good field guide for foragers or enlist a local expert so you know what you’re collecting. While most of these plants are easy to identify, others have non-edible or poisonous look alikes.
Yup, there are LOADS of weeds you can eat! Here are some great places to start for the novice home forager.
Weeds You Can Eat: Dandelions
Dandelion greens work as pizza toppings, in salads, and in stir fries. Or try some of these inventive uses for this easy-to-find foraged food:
♦ Here’s a tempting recipe for dandelion pesto
♦ Salad suggestions from Eating Well
♦ The Splendid Table has a recipe for dandelion flower cookies
♦ Ashley at Practical Self Reliance turns makes a yummy-looking dandelion and honey ice cream!
♦ Sarah at Nature’s Nurture has a wonderful collection of ideas for using dandelions in an impressive array of recipes. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you could roast the roots for a coffee-like drink.
♦ Boots and Hooves Homestead shares ways to use dandelions in beauty products, drinks, and all sorts of delicious foods.
Though usually seen as exceptionally pesky weeds, dandelions are versatile and very nutritious. The flowers are also important early food for bees, so if you want to help out our pollinators, try to leave some dandelion flowers in your yard in early spring, when there’s not much else for them to eat.
Edible Weeds: Wood Sorrel
Wood sorrel, which I’ve heard referred to as lemon hearts (love that!), is one of the next edible weeds to appear. It has delicate heart-shaped leaves that taste vaguely lemony. Great in salads, or to nibble on while you’re working in the garden. Kids love them, and my 5-year-old will happily pick herself a snack while she’s keeping me company. Sprinkle them on your salad or let your toddler nibble them while you dig up dandelions.
Weeds You Can Eat: Violets
I’ve always been a big fan of violets, which spread nicely to shady areas and make a great groundcover. After all my failed attempts at vegetable gardening in the front yard, they have been a welcome takeover. Imagine my delight when I discovered you can eat them as well! They also have some appealing medicinal uses. Find out more about using violets here.
Edible Weeds: Purslane
I’m eagerly awaiting the reappearance of my purslane, a rockstar of the weed world. High in vitamin E and other nutrients, it’s also one of the best plant-based sorurces of omega-3s. Check out my recipe for a delicious and healthy anti inflammatory smooothie. Apparently purslane is also good in stirfries, though I’ve never had enough left over from smoothies to try. Read more about purslane and recipes for using it here.
Other Common Weeds You Can Eat
- Lambsquarters, a relative of amaranth and quinoa, is another nutritious green for spring salads and cooking.
- Nettle is not only a super-nutritious green, it makes a soothing tea thought to boost your immune system and alleviate allergies.
- Plantain, one of several “weeds” and weed-like plants that are excellent additions to your home remedy arsenal.
- Chickweed is another nutritious option, as Michelle from Seeking Joyful Simplicity explains in her post on chickweed pesto.
- Japanese knotweed is another invasive worth eating, according to Ashley from Practical Self Reliance.
- Even creeping charlie can be cooked like spinach and brewed into a healthful tea.
- Though it doesn’t grow in my region, kudzu (the weed that ate the south) is also edible. If you’ve tried it, leave a comment and let me know how it is!
These weeds you can eat are everywhere. Go harvest yourself some free wild vegetables you didn’t even realize you were growing!
These are just a small selection of some of the edible weeds you might find in a yard near you. If you want to explore more, my go-to resource for foraged edibles is Wildman Steve Brill. Check out his comprehensive list of edible wild plants you might find in your yard (as well as his amazing recipes using wild foods. Cattail soup anyone?). I also love the information at Eat the Weeds and Edible Wild Food.
Pin to save these weeds you can eat for later!
Follow my foraging Pinterest board for lots more tips on finding free wild foods!