A few common weeds we can eat
*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 stinging 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.
Broad leaf plantain.