Stop fighting some of the weeds in your yard and save a little money by eating edible weeds and flowers.
It’s repurposing at its finest, nature as it’s intended. Make do with what you have and eat some of the weeds and flowers that crop up in your yard each year. We’ve listed some popular favorites, along with a few more common herbs that are easy to grow and can spread like weeds.
Cooking up daisies
Dandelions grow everywhere and might be the most easily recognizable weed, with their bright yellow flower. The entire weed, from tap root to flower, is edible. The leaves are most tender and less bitter if you harvest them early. Add them to a salad or steam more mature leaves. The roots are similar to any root vegetable in flavor.
Daisies are flowers, but also perennial weeds. It all depends on variety and location. The oxeye daisy weed is a close relative of chamomile, and some people tout its medicinal use if leaves and white flowers are brewed as tea. Leaves and flowers also are edible.
Clover is a well-known weed, and the flowers of red clover in particular are edible, used often in Asian dishes. Clover leaves have a V shape much like a chevron. They can be blended in teas or added to salads. You can cook the leaves like any greens. The plant is said to be high in protein.
Purslane is a low, spreading weed with oval leaves and pretty, tiny blooms in some climates. Technically a succulent, the plant is packed full of omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. It’s a hard weed to pull or kill, but you can enjoy the reddish stems and green, fleshy leaves in salads or as a spinach substitute in soups and other cooked dishes.
Though pungent to some, yarrow is an edible flower that also has medicinal value. The leaves have a bitter flavor, but work in salads or cooked. Younger leaves are better for raw eating. Add the flowers and leaves to teas. The plant is used in herbal medicine for is touted for its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.
Other edible weeds and flowers popular in some regions are mallows, chickweed, amaranth and stinging nettle. Just be sure you’ve identified the plant correctly and if in doubt, check with local extension offices.
Throw edible flowers such as pansies and nasturtium on your dinner salads (with weed leaves) to really dress them up! Pansy petals come in nearly every color, solid and multicolored, and nasturtiums are bright yellow, orange or red.
Of course, some herbs behave much like weeds, making them easy to grow, depending on your climate. Mint is a perfect example. If you want to cover a lot of ground, plant some mint. Then pick a few leaves every time you sit on your patio to cool off with a glass of iced tea. But a big caution: If you don’t have a lot of ground to cover, don’t plant mint. It’s very hard to get rid of once it roots. Put it in a container and enjoy the scent of several varieties around your yard or deck, such as chocolate mint or lemon mint.
Thyme is an easy herb to grow, and has a pleasant, almost salty aroma. It spreads easily, though not invasively, in most gardens and rewards you with fresh or dried herbs and tiny lavender flowers. Another favorite is rosemary, which needs very little water and can grow into sculpted or trailing bushes, and often flower. Or trim and dry stalks each fall for dried rosemary year-round.
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