Letter Re: Many Weeds are Actually Edible Wild Plants

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I read your blog every day and enjoy all of the helpful information that you and your readers post on a daily basis. I just wanted to pass along this information on edible weeds that can be found in ones backyard or about anywhere where plants can be grown. To most people weeds are just that, weeds that need to be destroyed to keep the yard or their property looking nice. But some weeds can also be eaten if a person knows how to identify them and cook them properly. In the event of a worst case scenario these ‘weeds’ can help sustain a person or a family for a brief period of time or be a nice addition to stored food, providing needed fresh veggies and nutrients.

The following is a list of some of the most commonly found ‘weeds’ in a yard or field that can be edible:

Burdock (Arctium lappa) Cultivated as a vegetable in Japan where it is known as gobo. The stalks are scraped and cooked like celery. The roots can be eaten raw in salads or added to stir fries.

Cattail (Typha latifolia)
The pollen can be used to enrich flour. The unripe flower spikes can be cooked as a vegetable and the young shoots and inner stems are eaten raw or cooked.

Century plant (Agave americana)
The flower stems and leaf bases can be roasted and eaten. Certain species can be made into alcoholic drinks such as tequila.

Chickweed (Stellaria media)
Can be added raw to salads or cooked as a vegetable.

Chicory (Cichorium intybus)
The roots of this plant are used as a coffee additive. The sky blue flowers are also edible and make a terrific addition to salads.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
The flowers can be made into wine or jelly. The roots are sometimes used as a coffee substitute. The young leaves make a nice addition to salads.

Epazote (Chenopodium ambrosioides)
A tropical American weed commonly used in Mexican cooking to flavor corn, beans, mushrooms, seafood, fish, soups, and sauces.

Garlic mustard (Alliaria officinalis)
The young leaves add a mild garlic flavor to salads, sandwiches, and soups.

JWR Adds: Exercise caution when gathering weeds on any land–whether public or private–that is outside of your personal control. Don’t overlook the risk that you could collect weeds that have been recently spayed with herbicides! Also, just as when mushroom picking, be absolutely sure that you are gathering the intended item. A mistake could prove fatal.