A weed

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Feature Foraging Weeds - Dip. Hort. (Dis­tinc­tion), BA

is com­monly de­fined as a plant in the wrong place, usu­ally in com­pe­ti­tion with pur­posely-grown veg­eta­bles and flow­ers.

Weeds are incredible op­por­tunists that we have ac­tu­ally en­cour­aged. They take ad­van­tage of dis­turbed bare ground in our gar­dens, ger­mi­nat­ing and grow­ing rapidly to pro­tect it, and then re­pro­duc­ing pro­lif­i­cally. Peren­nial weeds es­tab­lish even more strongly by send­ing out run­ners or off­sets, form­ing dense patches.

The word ‘weed’ is used in a deroga­tory way so most of us au­to­mat­i­cally see them as neg­a­tive and with­out value.

Yet one per­son’s weed is an­other per­son’s gar­den plant; galin­soga might be a ‘weed’ in NZ, but in Colom­bia it’s a pop­u­lar veg­etable.

Weeds can be very use­ful. They ar­rive with­out our as­sis­tance, grow with­out help, are abun­dant and free. Many are edi­ble in sal­ads, smooth­ies, pestos, or as a veg­etable, and many have health-giv­ing heal­ing prop­er­ties. Us­ing your weeds as food or medicine, or com­post­ing them, is far more sus­tain­able than dis­pos­ing of them by spray­ing. It trans­forms them into al­lies rather than en­e­mies, which makes gar­den­ing more en­joy­able.

Ju­lia Sich,


WEB­SITE: www.ju­liased­i­ble­weeds.com

Tau­ranga Ju­lia has a pas­sion for all plants, es­pe­ciall y ‘wild weeds’. She is a keen for­ager, pho­tog­ra­pher,

health re­searcher and sus­tain­able food grower. She loves to share her knowl­edge through work­shops, her books ( Ju­lia’s Guide to Edi­ble Weeds and Wild Green Smooth­ies),

and her web­site.

OTHER NAMES: re­d­root, pink­root, pig­weed DIS­TRI­BU­TION: found all over NZ in waste places and cul­ti­vated ground ABOUT: a na­tive an­nual of trop­i­cal parts of Amer­ica, in use since 4000BC. All parts of the plant are edi­ble, but the seeds are es­pe­cially rich in pro­tein and min­er­als. USES: al­though con­sid­ered a weed, peo­ple around the world value and use ama­ranth as a leafy veg­etable, a ce­real, and as an or­na­men­tal. Ama­ranth leaves con­tain high lev­els of cal­cium and niacin (vi­ta­min B3), three times more than spinach leaves. It also con­tains seven times more iron than let­tuce. Ama­ranth leaves are an ex­cel­lent source of vi­ta­min A in the form of an­tiox­i­dant carotenoids, iron, cal­cium, pro­tein, vi­ta­min C, vi­ta­min K, ri­boflavin, Vi­ta­min B6, mag­ne­sium, phos­pho­rus, potas­sium, zinc, cop­per and man­ganese.

I like to add young leaves to smooth­ies, sal­ads, soups, and pesto.

Gal­ium aparine parine

OTHER NAMES: biddy bid, sticky willy, goose grass rass DIS­TRI­BU­TION: very com­mon all over NZ, grow­ing in win­ter and spring ABOUT: scram­bling an­nual plant with rough leaves and stems that stick to things, has small seed-heads with hooks that catch on an­i­mal coats and your clothes. USES: one of the best cleans­ing ton­ics for the blood and lym­phatic sys­tem. Herbal­ists use it for in­fec­tions like ton­sil­li­tis, glan­du­lar fever, ME (chronic fa­tigue syn­drome), be­nign breast tu­mours, eczema and pso­ri­a­sis. It is also good for sheep, cows, horses and geese.

The ripe seeds can be lightly roasted and then boiled to make a drink I like very much which is sur­pris­ingly rich­lyflavoured. It is re­lated to cof­fee but lacks caf­feine.

It’s high in Vi­ta­min C and min­er­als, es­pe­cially sil­ica which is needed for nails, teeth and hair, so I put young shoots in smooth­ies. The leaves, fresh or dried, can be used as a re­fresh­ing tea, or cut them up finely and add to soups.

Sisym­brium of­fic­i­nale

DIS­TRI­BU­TION: com­mon through­out NZ in pas­ture, cul­ti­vated land and gar­dens ABOUT: this is an an­nual rosette-form­ing plant in the Bras­sica fam­ily. It has deeply­lobed, dull green leaves, of­ten with pur­plish stems which smell of mus­tard when crushed. Around Oc­to­ber it sends up flower stalks (up to 1m) which form orm a tan­gled, wiry mass. USES: used in n Europe in sauces, sal­ads and stews. In­fu­sions ns were used to cure coughs, wheez­ing and loss of voice and gained the name the ‘singers’ ers’ plant’.

Mus­tard greens ens have a rep­u­ta­tion as the health­i­est, full of vi­ta­mins A, B, C, E and K, cal­ci­umm and other min­er­als. Eat dur­ing the cool months when the leaves are lessess spicy and avoid for­ag­ing from pad­docks where ar­ti­fi­cial ni­tro­gen gen has been used as it can take ake up and re­tain ni­trates.

ABOUT: Fa­then is a com­mon weed in

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