A few com­mon weeds we can eat

Ontario Gardener Magazine - - LOCAL DIRT -

*Please re­search each plant to iden­tify it ac­cu­rately and be aware of any health risks that it may have. It is al­ways a good idea to check with your doc­tor or phar­ma­cist to see if there could be any in­ter­ac­tions with your med­i­ca­tions.

Cat­tail: Vir­tu­ally ev­ery part of this plant is ed­i­ble at some point, it has been called the su­per­mar­ket of the wild. The pollen can be used for flour, and the white cen­tres pulled out of the bot­tom of the stocks are also ed­i­ble. The young cob-like tips of the plant, spurs off the main roots, and spaghetti like rootlets are filled with vi­ta­mins A, B, C, potas­sium, and phos­pho­rus. And with a lit­tle work the root can be eaten as well.

Chick­weed: The en­tire plant is ed­i­ble, steamed they have a del­i­cate spinach-like taste. Chick­weed is an ex­cel­lent ad­di­tion to stews, cur­ries, and sal­ads. If you’re at a loss, the in­ter­net has a ton of recipes. This is one plant you need to be able to know how to iden­tify from poi­sonous looka-likes. Chick­weed does NOT have milky sap and it has one line of hairs on its stem that changes sides with each leaf pair. If the plant has the line of hairs and no white sap, its chick­weed, but if it does not have hairs or sap it is scar­let pim­per­nel, no hairs and white sap means it is spurge. Do not eat the im­i­ta­tors. Lamb's Quar­ters: Young shoots and leaves can be eaten raw in any veg­etable dish, sauteed or steamed and used any­where spinach is called for. Most of the plant is ed­i­ble: leaves, shoots, seeds, flow­ers, how­ever, saponins in the seeds are po­ten­tially toxic and should not be con­sumed in ex­cess. If you are eat­ing it raw, eat small quan­ti­ties only as lamb’s quar­ters con­tain ox­alic acid which is re­moved when it is cooked.

Marsh Marigold: Found in bogs and marshes in par­tial shade, all parts of the marsh marigold are ed­i­ble if they are boiled as the plant con­tains toxic gly­co­side pro­toanemonin (de­stroyed by heat). Avoid older plants. Flower buds can be eaten raw, as can young leaves but cau­tion is ad­vised.

Purslane: Another nu­tri­tional pow­er­house in a com­mon weed. Purslane is said to con­tain more omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy veg­etable. Purslane is a suc­cu­lent an­nual trail­ing plant with spoon-like leaves and a dis­tinc­tive thick, red­dish stem. Leaves, stems, and flow­ers can be eaten as a cooked veg­etable and are great to use in sal­ads, soups, stews or any dish you wish to sprin­kle it over.

Sheep Sor­rel Leaves: Leaves can be eaten raw or cooked and have a lemon-like flavour which adds to mixed sal­ads. Use leaves in small quan­ti­ties due to ox­alic acid con­tent. Sheep sor­rel was used for many med­i­cal ail­ments and is said to be one of the strong­est an­tiox­i­dant herbs that we can use. Roots and seeds can also be eaten. Sting­ing Net­tle: Not hard to miss, this plant can leave you with a sting-

ing blis­ter, but it is ed­i­ble. Leaves can be har­vested from the time they emerge un­til late fall. They are used for food and tea. Cook­ing the net­tles will neu­tral­ize the sting, but the hairs are still vis­i­ble.

Com­mon sow’s this­tle: There’s a huge va­ri­ety in sow thistles, they vary in the num­ber of prick­les they have to height and colour. Young and ten­der leaves re­sem­ble let­tuce, but as the plant ages the leaves be­come bit­ter and will need to be trimmed of the thistles, at this point they are better left alone. Broadleaf plan­tain: Ten­der young leaves can be eaten fresh in sal­ads and smooth­ies or lightly cooked for stew or soup. Plan­tain is very high in beta carotene (A), B1, ri­boflavin, cal­cium, and fiber. The plant is also a good source of vi­ta­min C. Older leaves be­come too fi­brous to eat raw but can

be cooked. Plan­tain also has sev­eral medic­i­nal uses.

White Clover: It’s ed­i­ble and medic­i­nal in na­ture too. Flow­ers and leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. They can be added to soups or sal­ads or for mak­ing sun tea. Red clover also makes a pleas­ant tast­ing tea, but the pink clover is or­na­men­tal only.

Curly Dock: can be eaten raw when young or cooked when older. They have a high ox­alic acid con­tent, and it's of­ten rec­om­mended to eat them in mod­er­a­tion, as well as to change the wa­ter sev­eral times dur­ing cook­ing.

Creep­ing Char­lie: The leaves are ed­i­ble and have a mild bit­ter flavour. They are ideal for toss­ing in sal­ads, cooked like spinach added to soups, omelets and more. You can also make tea with them. They have even been added to beer to im­prove flavour and keep­ing qual­i­ties.

Sow this­tle.

Sheep sor­rel.

Cat­tail.

Purse­lane.

Lambs quar­ters.

Chick­weed.

Broad leaf plan­tain.

Curly dock.

Sting­ing Net­tle.

Creep­ing Char­lie.

Clover.

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