Edible weeds in my yard

Do you remember that nasty, thorny vine I declared war on? Well, it turns out it is edible! Since I just learned this, I thought I’d share with you all the edible weeds growing in my yard–that I’m aware of. A word of caution: if you’re in doubt about the plant you are trying to identify–don’t eat it!

Nasty thorny vine (aka Green Brier or Green Briar)

Green Briar shoots coming back. You can see the hard thorny remains from when I cut it down before.

Green briar shoots coming back. You can see the hard thorny remains from when I cut it down before.

I was researching how to get rid of this vine for good without chemicals. But first I had to identify it. After Googling “nasty thorny vine” I found pictures of it. I wasn’t that far off when I said it looked like a brier patch! Here is the Wikipedia entry on it.

Turns out it is a nuisance for a lot of people. But it has multiple edible parts! Eat the weeds talks about the roots, green shoots, and berries being edible. Turns out this plant has many uses, including food and habitat for wild animals. Darn it! I guess I’ll let some grow, but not much.

Oh, to get rid of it, you must dig up the root. And the root can be surprisingly big.

Wild Garlic

Wild Garlic recovering from being transplanted.

Wild Garlic recovering from being transplanted. The one in the foreground didn’t make You can see the bulb.

Wild garlic patch right next to the house. I've been leaving this patch alone to see how it develops.

Wild garlic patch right next to the house. I’ve been leaving this patch alone to see how it develops.

This stuff grows everywhere. It is usually the highest “grass” in peoples yards in the very early spring. If it is in your lawn when you mow your yard you will know it when you start smelling garlic. I love that smell. Yummm!

The variety that grows here has hollow stems and grows in clumps. The bulbs and stems are edible. This website, Emergency Outdoors, has the best description of it that I can find. It seems you can use it to replace chives or garlic in your cooking.

To get rid of it: you have to dig it up.

Wild Violets

Wild violet

Wild violet

I’ve mentioned these before. They grow everywhere around here. Pretty purple flowers in the early spring. Edible wild food has some more information about eating these pretty flowers and leaves.

To get rid of it: from what I’ve read you can try and try and try to dig up the rhizomes, but if any tiny little bit is left it’ll come back.

Common Plantain

Common plantain

Common plantain

This weed likes to grow right on the edge of my lawn and driveway. I don’t think I’ll ever harvest it because it gets driven on sometimes and from what I’ve read it doesn’t seem like it is all that tasty. But Edible Wild Foods and Eat the Weeds say it is good for you. If I were starving I’d eat it.

Can you guess how to get rid of it? Yep! Dig it up!

Dandelions

This sad dandelion is about to bloom.

This sad dandelion is about to bloom.

I let dandelions grow in my yard, except in the garden beds. The kids enjoy picking the flowers and blowing on the puffs. I think everyone is already aware that this is an edible weed. The whole thing, leaves, flowers, and roots are edible. I’ve tried store bought dandelion root tea. I didn’t much care for it. I haven’t tried them myself, but I’ve read the leaves are full of nutrients, but bitter. Checkout Edible Wild Food and Eat the Weeds for recipes and uses.

And, yet again, to get rid of it you have to dig it up.

Purple Dead Nettle

Purple Dead nettle.

Purple Dead nettle.

Purple Dead nettle

More purple dead nettle

Been pulling this weed out of the yard for years. Didn’t know it was edible until recently. Eat the weeds doesn’t have much on this one, but it is edible. Supposedly the flower nectar is sweet. You can eat the whole top of the plant, too. I’ve read of people putting the top of the plant in smoothies, because the leaves taste like grass, but are full of good nutrients.

To get rid of it: pluck them as soon as you see them. Try to do it before it reseeds, which is very early spring.

Mint

Big clump of mint in my flower bed.

Big clump of mint in my flower bed.

I don’t think this is a wild weed, but it is a weed nonetheless. Some previous homeowner must have planted this. It grows in my front yard flower garden bed. I’ve been trying to get rid of it for years, pulling roots and pulling roots and pulling up more roots, but it still comes back. I think the variety that is growing in my yard is peppermint.

Mint does have good uses: teas, flavorings, spices.

Mother Earth Living has some options for getting rid of it. Basically dig it up or smother it.

I’m sure there are more edibles in my yard and I just don’t know them. In the meantime, I’ll be pulling them as weeds.

Eat the weeds has some good guidelines for identifying edible weeds. Remember: if in doubt, don’t eat it! Oh, and if any experts out there think I’ve misidentified any of the weeds in my photos, please let me know.;) I’m still learning.

-Lorelei

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