The good, bad and edible on weeds. When you have a large area to maintain keeping things beautiful but manageable is a challenge. The best way to manage large spaces is to reevaluate your opinion on weeds. For the most part people have adopted the view that weeds are ugly, unnecessary and should be done away with. None of that is accurate.
They are actually very beautiful and incredibly good for you, your pets and lets not forget necessary for the bees. It is time we take a fresh look at what is growing in our own backyards. The following weeds are what I have on my property so they are what I will focus on today.
Henbit is one of our dogs favorites. Humming birds love it too, for the nectar. It grows easily. It is high in iron, vitamins and fiber.
It is not toxic but can cause “staggers” in sheep, horses, and cattle. It has a close cousin called Dead Nettle.
The stem, flowers, and leaves are edible, and although this is in the mint family, many people say it tastes slightly like raw kale, not like mint. Henbit is very nutritious, high in iron, vitamins and fiber. Raw Henbit is great in salads, soups, wraps, or green smoothies.
The dogs and ducks love the chickweed. Chickweed grows easily and spreads quickly. It has pretty little flower. It is also very easy to pick or clear from an area by hand. I think it makes a great ground cover to prevent erosion.
There is a look-alike called Mouse-eared chickweed, that while edible, must be cooked to become safe to eat.
At one time chickweed was added to fancy sandwiches. It is packed full of nutrients such as chlorophyll, minerals especially calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron, phosphorus and potassium, and vitamins especially C, A and B factors, such as folic acid, riboflavin, niacin and thiamine.
I don’t have much clover on the property. However, I thought I did the first couple years we were here but I recently learned it is not clover but its close cousin Wood Sorrel.
As a whole, clovers are known to be high in important nutrients like calcium, protein, and phosphorus. It contains Calcium, Chromium, Magnesium, Niacin, Phosphorus, Potassium, Thiamin, Vitamin C, and Zinc.
Red clover contains “isoflavones” which are changed in the body to “phytoestrogens” that are similar to the hormone estrogen. Though clover is often used for hormone issues if someone is estrogen dominate clover should be used sparingly. It can certainly be an issue for some animals if they are eating it in large quantities.
The leaves can be tossed into a salad or used in a tea. The preferable part of clover is the flower. Red clovers are the tastiest of all clovers although it is recommended not to eat too many of these as some people experience bloating.
Wood Sorrel looks just like clover but when it blooms you will see the flowers are very different.
Wood Sorrel is beautiful when it blooms. It makes an excellent ground cover that protects from soil erosion. Wood sorrel is high in vitamin C and also contains vitamin A. Historically, it was used to treat scurvy, fevers, urinary infections, mouth sores, nausea and sore throats.
Wood sorrel poisoning in horses is a dangerous condition caused by eating any plant of the sorrel (oxalis) variety. These plants contain soluble calcium oxalates (oxalic acid) which can produce a serious reaction of colic and inability of the blood to clot. Oxalis is the same substance that causes experts to tell us to eat spinach in moderation.
Wood sorrel is an incredible thirst quencher and is refreshing to eat. The leaves, flowers, and immature green seed pods are all edible having a mild sour flavor that some say resemble lemons. Wood sorrel can be added to salads, used in soups, sauces and it can also be used as a seasoning.
Dandelion is probably the most recognizable.
Dandelion good for loss of appetite, upset stomach, intestinal gas, gallstones, joint pain, muscle aches, eczema, and bruises. Dandelion is also used to increase urine production and as a laxative to increase bowel movements.
Some people may experience side effects, including heartburn, diarrhea, upset stomach, and irritated skin.
The entire plant is considered edible. It can be added to salads or made into a tea.
Violet is my favorite. I think it is one of the prettiest.
Violet leaves have a high level of vitamins A and C. It helps with sleep issues, improves skin and relieves cold and sinus problems.
Violet roots are not recommended. They can clean you out.
Violets leaves can be used raw in salads or cooked like spinach. The leaves are excellent for teas. Violet flowers and leaves are edible. Their flowers can be eaten raw, or candied. The flowers can be made into jellies, candied, or tossed into a salad. Violet roots, however, are not user friendly.