You’ve worked hard to achieve a beautiful, lush lawn using natural methods, but some weeds have managed to work their way into your masterpiece. No worries! Many of the plants we refer to as weeds actually make great dinner fare. Your lawn could provide you and your family with some interesting and tasty dishes as a result of your weed-pulling efforts.
Here are 7 edible weeds that often creep into lawns, and how you can enjoy them at the dinner table and even as a remedy for minor health complaints.
Chickweed. This weed has delicate white flowers and edible leaves that sport a delicate flavor that is similar to spinach. Add raw chickweed leaves to salads and sandwiches or enjoy them cooked in soups, stews, and stir-fry. Chickweed (Stellaria media) also has significant amounts of vitamins A, C, and D as well as calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.
As an herb, chickweed can help with a number of health conditions in both people and cats. For example, chickweed leaves can be crushed and applied to bruises to help reduce inflammation. Infused chickweed oil can be added to bathwater to relieve symptoms of eczema or applied to insect bites to reduce itchiness. A decoction of chickweed (3 heaping tablespoons of leaves in 32 oz boiling water) can be taken every three hours to treat constipation. If your cat suffers with fur balls, a teaspoon of chickweed decoction can be added to pet food to help eliminate the fur balls and facilitate digestion.
Curly (yellow) dock. The leaves, stems, and mature seeds of curly or yellow dock (Rumex crispus) can be enjoyed raw or cooked. Raw leaves are best when they are young, and you may want to cook the more mature ones and add them to soups and stews. Peel the stems and eat them raw or cooked, while the mature seeds can be eaten raw, roasted and ground to make a coffee substitute, or boiled.
Because dock leaves are high in oxalic acid (which can result in the formation of kidney stones in some folks), it is best to enjoy them in small amounts and change the water several times during cooking.
Dandelions. The greens of these golden-headed weeds are sold at farmers’ markets and grocery stores, just one indication they don’t deserve the weed title. Pick dandelion leaves before the flowers are fully mature if you want to avoid their slightly bitter flavor, although some people enjoy that taste. Don’t forget the flowers, which can be battered and fried. In the nutrition category, dandelions (Taraxacum) are an excellent source of beta-carotene (more than in carrots) as well as vitamins A, C, B6, and K as well as the minerals calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper, and potassium.
Lamb’s quarters. Also known as wild spinach, goosefoot, and pigweed, this lawn pest is rich in calcium, protein, and vitamins A, C, and K. Lamb’s quarters have seeds that contain a higher level of protein (16%) than wheat (14%). You can enjoy lamb’s quarters (Chenopodium album) raw or cooked, and the leaves are especially delicious when sautéed lightly in olive oil until just wilted and seasoned with garlic, salt, and lemon juice.
Mallow. Mallow (Malva neglecta), also known as cheeseweed because of the shape of its seed pods, is a rich source of nutrients and a great substitute for spinach. The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked, and the younger ones tend to be tastier and more tender. Mallow leaves provide vitamins A and C as well as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and selenium.
Don’t stop with the leaves, however, as all parts of mallow are edible. The seed pots can be used as capers and the flowers are delicious when added to salads. Dried leaves can be used as a tea, and the roots release a thick liquid when boiled. This liquid can be beaten and used as a substitute for egg whites in recipes.
Plantain. Don’t confuse this lawn weed with the tropical fruit that has the same name. Pick young plantain (Plantago major) leaves and eat them raw, boiled, sautéed, or steamed. Mature leaves tend to be tough, but a little extra cooking can remedy that problem. Plantain seeds, which are a rich source of fiber, grow on a flower spike and can be ground into flour or cooked as is like a grain.
The Native Americans used plantain leaves to relieve itching associated with poison ivy and to treat sores and bruises. Today cooled plantain tea is frequently used to help heal and prevent mouth sores. Plantain tinctures, infusions, or teas may help lower cholesterol, manage diabetes, sooth kidney infections, and aid indigestion and ulcers.
Purslane. This succulent weed has a reputation for being extremely difficult to eliminate, so why fight it? Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) leaves and stems are edible, have a slightly peppery flavor, and are a powerhouse of vitamin A and C. They also reportedly contain more omega-3 fatty acids than all other leafy green veggies.
The leaves are slightly crispy and can be enjoyed raw or cooked. Add purslane to stir-fry, salads, stews, sandwiches, soups, and even smoothies. You can substitute purslane leaves for recipes that call for spinach since these greens are relatives and have a similar taste.
Ditzel P. Edible weeds you can forage from your yard. Mother Earth News
Edible Wild Food.com. Mallow
Markham D. Please eat the dandelions: 9 edible garden weeds. Treehugger.com
Mercola.com. What are dandelion greens good for?
Rodale Organic. 8 backyard weeds you can actually eat.
Wellness Mama. Plantain: a healing herb in your backyard.