There are plenty of edible weeds likely growing in your garden and backyard. However, only harvest those that you can positively identify.
Below is a list of edible garden weeds and wild greens you might want to give a try.
1. Chickweed (Stellaria media)
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Along with many other wild plants, common chickweed has nutritional value as well as a spinach type of flavor.
This attractive plant with tiny white flowers, broad leaves, and hairy stems is often seen in lawns and is chock-full of goodness.
All parts contain magnesium, potassium, and calcium plus vitamins A and C. Try making a chickweed pesto or adding it to sandwiches, soups, and salads.
2. White Clover (Trifolium repens)
This common lawn weed is useful in attracting pollinators like bees to the garden. It grows easily and abundantly and makes a sweet tea or an unusual flour.
Grind the flowers of this sweet plant to make the flour. Alternatively, bake some edible clovers and strawberry (or any berry) cookies.
Red clover is also edible. Another benefit is that both red or white clover makes a great cover crop. Purchase clover seeds here.
3. Dandelion (Taraxacum)
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Everyone everywhere is used to the sight of dandelions. Some gardeners can’t stand them as they ‘spoil’ the lawns.
Dandelions are considered weeds; however, they have many edible parts. You can eat the flowers and leaves steamed or have the roots roasted like carrots and root vegetables.
You can also eat the leaves raw when they are young and fresh. Moreover, add it to ice cream, jellies, or wine. Furthermore, bees love this edible backyard plant too.
4. Greater Burdock (Arctium lappa)
This sticky weed can be a real nuisance in the garden but turns into a tasty flavoring for curries or roasted alongside other root vegetables.
Moreover, fermented burdock roots and dandelion make an old-fashioned drink/beer , packed with vitamins.
However, you need to carefully identify this edible yard plant to avoid confusion with harmful weeds. Greater burdock has recognizable purple thistle-like flowers in season.
5. Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)
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These are also common edible weeds in the garden that are useful as a culinary additive. Cooking will neutralize the sting and the nettles become a very tasty addition to sweet and savory dishes.
Cooks have long valued stinging nettle for providing extra flavor to omelets or added to vegetable-based cakes. Moreover, Stinging nettle can replace or supplement spinach in many recipes. They also add plenty of iron to the meal .
6. Lamb’s Quarters (Chenopodium album)
This is another kind of weed that humans can eat. Lamb’s Quarters has a lot of uses and you can substitute it for other edible greens. However, blanch or cook it to reduce the oxalic acid content.
It is highly nutritious, containing B vitamins, iron, calcium, and protein. Additionally, you can easily recognize Lamb’s Quarters by the sharp-toothed leaves and white powdery patina on the plants.
Other common names include goosefoot, fat hen, and wild spinach.
7. Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)
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This is an edible backyard weed that has small oar-shaped leaves and yellow flowers. Purslane is mild and has a lot of nutrients.
The leaves, flower buds, and stems can be sautéed and added to seafood dishes or eaten by themselves. You can also add it to green juice along with other greens.
Buy Purslane seeds online.
8. Curly Dock (Rumex crispus)
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All the dock species are edible. Curly Dock usually grows near nettles. It’s also been known from ages past that the leaves give instant relief to nettle stings.
Cook the leaves in soups and other dishes or eat them raw. The young leaves have a slightly tart lemon flavor that you can use as an alternative to citrus fruit. However, it contains high amounts of oxalic acid, so eat in moderation.
9. Broadleaf Plantain (Plantago major)
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Another backyard weed you can eat is Plantain. Big clumps of it can be quite invasive along paths, in flower beds, and lawns.
Broadleaf plantain is very common. You can substitute it for spinach or kale in recipes using those vegetables.
Use the leaves and flower heads but it’s best to pick them young for full flavor.
10. Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)
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Garlic Mustard is an invasive herb but one that packs a punch in nutritional goodness. It contains vitamins A and C and omega-3 fatty acids.
The mineral content also includes iron, calcium, manganese, selenium, and potassium. Moreover, garlicky and spicy in flavor, you can use it in many dishes including pesto and chimichurri.
11. Sheep Sorrel (Rumex acetosella)
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Sheep Sorrel contains oxalic acid that should be removed first before adding to any dish. Blanching first and disposing of the water should remove a good amount of oxalic acid.
The edgy lemony taste from the young stalks cuts through fatty meats like pork or lamb. Moreover, the leaves are arrow-shaped, so it’s easily identified.
12. Thistles (Cirsium sp.)
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There are many species of this weed, and all of them are generally disliked by gardeners. However, all in the genus Cirsium and the genus Carduus are edible.
All parts are edible and you can eat it raw, steamed, or boiled. The beautiful purple heads also make a colorful display.
13. Violets (Viola sp.)
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Among the wild edible plants in your yard, violet is becoming popular in vegan cooking. Both the leaves and flowers are fit for consumption; however, do not eat the seeds and roots as they are poisonous.
Wild violets contain plenty of vitamin c and have a sugary flavor. Use them to make teas, syrups, jams, or garnish salads. Look out for those, blue, white, or purple flowers.
14. Ramsons (Allium ursinum)
The leaves are edible and you can use them in salads and sandwiches. Ramsons, otherwise known as wild garlic, is also rich in vitamins A & C, calcium, and iron. Moreover, it is good for coughing and digestive problems.
15. Wild Amaranths (Amaranthus spp.)
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All parts of Wild amaranth (Pigweed) are edible. These edible wild plants can be difficult to eradicate; however, you can put them to good use in the kitchen. Amaranth also goes by the name callaloo bush.
The young leaves are fine to eat raw in salads and the older leaves can be steamed or used in a stir-fry. Moreover, all members of the genus Amaranthus can be eaten .
Purchase Red Amaranth seeds online.
16. Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta)
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Unlike most of these edible yard greens, this one is a cold-weather plant that you can add to winter salads and soups.
17. Common Mallow (Malva neglecta)
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Mallow (cheeseweed) is a frequently seen mauve-flowered wild plant, thriving in most places.
The leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds are edible. You can eat the young plants raw in salads. However, it’s best to steam or sauté mature plants.
Mallow is a source of Vitamins A, B, and C, plus calcium and magnesium.
Weeding is an unpleasant but necessary chore. Nonetheless, you can use it as an opportunity to forage for those tasty and nutritious wild edibles in your backyard.
Ages twenty through forty, I studied nutrition and herbology. Then I sold the books to pay bills. Without them, much has slipped my memory. Herbal information that others might provide, would be highly appreciated.