Alternative Uses of Weeds
Though we often eradicate weeds from our lawns and gardens, they are actually a useful and underutilized resource. Many weeds are edible and can be used to diversify our diet, while other weeds have medicinal properties. Instead of spraying them, we can take advantage of finding weeds in our yards and put them to good use.
*Warning: some people may have allergic reactions to consuming and/or touching weeds. Be cautious with handling weeds, and only start eating them in small amounts.
Both the leaves and flowers of dandelions are edible. The greens, though slightly bitter, can be eaten raw, added to a salad, or steamed. Dandelion flowers are sweeter than the leaves, and can be eaten raw or cooked. Dandelions are not just a potential food source for humans, but an essential one for bees and other pollinators. When we remove dandelions, we are eliminating a valuable food source for pollinators, whose populations are rapidly diminishing.
A broad leafed weed, is both edible and medicinal. The young leaves can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, sautéed, or made into a tea. The leaves can be crushed and applied topically for insect bites or minor burn relief.
A succulent-like weed that is edible. It is
believed to have more omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy green vegetable. It adds a peppery flavor to dishes, and can be eaten raw or cooked. It can also be used to thicken soups or stews.
An important food source for bees and other pollinators. Clover flowers, both red and white, can be dried to make tea. Additionally, clover leaves are edible and can be added to salads.
A weed with edible leaves that can be cooked or eaten raw. The leaves aren’t very flavorful on their own, but bring out the flavor in other dishes. Mallow flowers, fruits, stems, and roots are also edible.