5 Edible Weeds You Can Sink Your Teeth Into!

Edible weeds have been used medicinally for thousands of years. Yet most people don’t like having weeds in their yards so they pull them up and discard of them quickly.

However, many plants that grow freely during the hot seasons of the year, are actually highly beneficial. But why should you even care?

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For one thing, there have been recent whispers online about upcoming world-wide food shortages. It seems believable enough when you consider all the drought in some areas and flooding in others, there's been in recent years. If those rumors come into fruition, it's going to come in handy to be able to identify a few edible weeds. As a mom, I know it's better to heir on the side of caution and be prepared. You never know what challenges lay ahead!

Another moot point is that unless you go grabbing weeds from Central Park in New York and get arrested, most weeds in your own yard and neighboring areas are free, but there is a caveat. You have to understand that although they’re free, they can be toxic IF you grab them from anywhere that powerful pesticides and herbicides (that contain nitrates, neonicotinoids, or glyphosates) have been used. You cannot ‘rinse them off’ either, as they have become part of the plant.

Another caveat is you will also need to ensure what you’re harvesting is actually the right weed. Many edible weeds look similar to other weeds that could make you sick. This is why it’s important to just stick to the varieties you DO recognize! Edible weeds are far more nutritious than anything you can buy in the store or grow in your garden. Always remember that edible does not mean allergen-free.

Would you consume edible weeds? Vote here.

plantain weed image

Edible Weeds in Nature

Broad-leaf plantain
Plantago major

Broad Leaf plantain (also called ‘snake weed’) is both edible and medicinal. The young, tender leaves are rich in nutrients like vitamin B1 and riboflavin. The herb has a long history; used as an alternative medicine in ancient times. One American Indian name for the plant translates to "life medicine," and for good reason. This edible weed seems to be good for just about anything and grows abundantly in rocky soil, driveways, and sidewalk cracks.

Externally: Leaves can be chewed, applied directly to inflammation, and used as a poultice because it has the ability to pull toxins from cuts, bug bites, acne, splinters, rashes, and bee stings. It can be used in first aid kits as a balm or on used as a skin cleanser when infused. The roots can also be heated and use as a poultice for Rattlesnake bites specifically.

A tea or infusion of plantain leaf can be poured into the ear to soothe ear infections, as long as the ear drum is in tact.

You can also make a lotion for your skin made with plantain, calendula, and coconut oil. It’s good for all types of skin irritations, including bruises, mosquito bites, eczema, psoriasis, rashes, and sores.

Internally: The leaves are edible and slightly bitter but does resemble spinach. They can be used in salad blends or added to stews or soups as a potherb. You can also make tea with the leaves to help aid digestion, heartburn, ulcers, food allergies, and Celiac’s. Plantain tea also greatly eases the itch of poison ivy (and the like) and spider bites.

Plantain infusions may help protect the body from the effects of chemotherapy and improve blood sugar levels. Its one edible weed you should always be able to identify, in case of emergency!

Plantain Recipes

Medicinal herbal tea: For colds and flu use 1 T. dry or fresh whole Plantain (seed, root, and leaves) to 1 cup boiling water. Steep for 10 minutes, strain, sweeten to taste. Drink throughout the day.

Healing salve: In large non-metallic pot, place 1 lb. of entire plantain plant chopped, add 1 cup lard, cover, cook down on low heat till mushy. Strain while hot, cool and use for burns, insect bites, rashes, and all sores. Note: You can also use this concoction as night cream for wrinkles.


Plantain is good for injuries because it has coagulating properties. For that reason, anyone with a blood disorder or is prone to blood clots should not use plantain internally.

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Common Dandelion

When it comes to dandelions, some people see only a weed, while other people see a wish! Dandelions grow abundantly and although you may think you've pulled up all the roots, they have a tendency to reproduce anyway and may only grow back stronger. God sure had a plan for the dandelion; one of the healthiest and most versatile edible weeds in the world.

From the roots to the stems, to the leaves and flowers, the entire plant is consumable. Pick young leaves early in the year or just as the plants emerge throughout the summer. You will find that the young leaves are the most tender and have the best flavor. They taste a bit like chicory and endive, with an intense heartiness overlying a bitter tinge. They may be more of an acquired taste but the more you consume them, the more you’ll develop a palate for them.

Internally: The leaves have generous quantities of vitamins C, K, A, B-1, B-2, B-5, B-6, B-12, D, biotin, inositol, phosphorus, zinc, calcium, iron, potassium, and manganese. The root contains the sugar inulin, plus many other medicinal substances. You can eat these edible weeds raw or add them to stews or casseroles.

The bright yellow flowers can be collected and batter fried or used in salads The flowers can also be made into a simple wine, by fermenting them with yeast and raisins. Don’t consume the green sepals at the flower base however, unless you love bitter flavors.

Dandelion taproot can be roasted, ground, and brewed just like coffee.

Dandelion root is one of the safest and most popular herbal remedies. Officinale means that it’s used medicinally and used as a decoction as a tonic. It strengthens the entire body, especially the liver and gallbladder, where it promotes bile-flow, reduces inflammation of the bile duct, and helps flush gallstones.

You can use the root and leaf as a natural diruetic to promote flushing of the kidneys; which improves the way the kidneys cleanse the blood and recycle nutrients.

Dandelions are also good for the bladder, spleen, pancreas, stomach and intestines. Anyone who’s stressed out, run-down, or overweight can benefit from consuming dandelion tea.

Dandelion rootís inulin is a sugar that doesn't elicit the rapid production of insulin, as refined sugars do. Anyone with diabetes or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can benefit from consuming the roots.

Dandelion Recipe:

Italian style Dandelion Stir Fry

Sauté dandelion leaves, garlic, and onions in olive oil for about 10 minutes. At the last minute, add a splash of wine and turn off the heat to simmer. Add salt and ground red pepper to taste.

purslane image

Common purslane
Portulaca olearacea

If you've ever lived in a big city, you are bound to have run across common purslane, which grows in cracks in the pavement. Purslane has fleshy succulent leaves that closely resemble the jade plant. They have long stems with vivid yellow flowers. The stems of the wild plant usually lay flat on the ground as they emerge from a single taproot, forming large clusters of leaves.

Did you know that this weed is rich in omega-3 fats? That’s pretty awesome when you think about it! If you eat enough of them, you can avoid buying fish oil to get these essential fats.

Purslane has a lemon-like taste and the leaves, stems, and flowers are entirely edible. It is most often used as a compliment in salads but can also be sautéed. Before harvesting the edible weeds, be careful not to grab spurge instead. It is similar to purslane but has a milky sap… which makes it easily distinguishable.

Do not consume the purslane plant you buy from the store, unless you trust the vendor explicitly. Most hardware stores like Home Depot and Lowes, sell plants that have been sprayed with pesticides. Remember you can’t wash the chemicals off either. Instead, buy heirloom seeds and grow them yourself. It’s a much safer route!

You can also consume purslane aficionados, which tastes more like spinach or watercress. Consume young tender plants for the most flavor. Use the stems tips and leaves in salads or on sandwiches. It can also be cooked but can become slimy if it’s overcooked. The seeds are also tasty. In warm zones, you can find the emergence of these edible weeds around June.

For recipes go to http://www.prairielandcsa.org/recipes/purslane.html.

lambs quarter weed image

Lambs quarter
Chenopodium album

Lambs quarter’s (also called goosefoot) are diverse edible weeds with diamond-shaped leaves with small teeth. They are easily distinguishable because you’ll also see a white waxy powder-like substance on the smallest leaves of the plant. However, there’s another type of plant called epazote that’s sometimes confused with lambs quarters. Epazote is used all the time in Mexican dishes but can be poisonous if eaten in large quantities. You can find more about it here.

Lambs quarter’s leaves have an earthy-taste, somewhat like a cross between spinach and Swiss chard. Some say they have a nutty after-taste but I’ve never noticed it. I guess it depends on the plant. They are relatively easy to grow but they do require some soil. For that reason, they can be found just about anywhere. The edible weeds produce tiny green flowers that form in clusters on top of spikes, and the leaves resemble the feet of a goose.

The entire plant is edible. Young leaves are light green and slightly velvety to the touch. From a distance, the plant almost looks dusty but that’s because the leaves have a white powdery substance underneath. The leaves at the top of the plant are usually the best for harvesting as they are the most tender and desirable palate-wise. Discard the bottom leaves, which can sometimes be brown or dead. They can grow from 3 – 6 feet high.

It is safe to consume the entire plant, including the leaves, shoots, seeds, and flowers. Saponins in the seeds can be toxic and therefore should not be consumed in excess. Lamb’s quarters contain oxalic acid so eat small quantities when eating it raw. Note however, that cooking helps remove the acid. Lamb’s quarter can be eaten in salads or added to juices or smoothies. Steaming the edible weeds is one method of cooking, or can be added to soups, stews, and sautés. Drying the leaves to use as a spice is one way to add more nutrition to your meals throughout the winter.

A one-cup (cooked) serving will give you 10 times the daily-recommended dose of vitamin K; three times the vitamin A; more than ample vitamin C; and a good dose of calcium and magnesium.

Lambs Quarters are said to be a purifying plant because they help restore healthy nutrients to contaminated soil. That’s why you have to be careful where you harvest them. Look for them in gardens, near streams, rivers, or forest clearings when you’re collecting them.

stinging nettles weed image

Stinging Nettles
Urtica dioica

Stinging nettles (often called common nettle), is native to Europe, Asia, northern Africa, and North America. The plant contains tiny needles that will cause a rash if you brush by them in the woods or actually sting you if you attempt to pick them without gloves. If you do get stung, it's well worth it because of the delicious taste of the edible weeds when cooked or prepared as a tea. Fortunately, the tiny needles fall off when you boil them or hang them upside down to dry them for tea.

Common nettles taste like spinach but are richly flavorful and healthy. They are loaded with essential minerals such as iodine, magnesium, potassium, silica, sulfur, and phosphorus. They also contain loads of high-quality protein.

These edible weeds are used medicinally as well. It is a good spring tonic and natural cleanser that removes metabolic wastes. It is both stimulating and gentle on the lymph system, and promotes excretion through the kidneys. You can use the dried leaves in ointments, tinctures, extracts, and remedies.

The tea or extract can be used can be used to soothe arthritis symptoms, gout, rheumatism, fibromyalgia, and tendonitis. It is also good for hormonal symptoms in women and helps regulate menstral flow. It can also be used to relieve itching from bites or rashes and has a stimulating and cleansing effect on the scalp.

The leaves have been used for conditions like asthma, hives, hay fever, bladder and urinary tract infection. Since it’s a natural diuretic, it can be used to increase urination and can be used to treat kidney stones and enlarged prostrate in men. They can also be used as an herbal remedy for sore throats, swollen hemorrhoids, nose bleeds, and mouth sores. The leaves also have a positive effect on anyone suffering from digestive issues.

Warning: Because stinging nettles can produce side effects and interact with other drugs, consult your healthcare professional before use.

As long as the sun heats up the earth, edible weeds will be widely available. Without weeds to support diversity throughout the lands, many of God's creatures would starve and disappear. So although you may detest them, they do serve our planet well!

Always consult your physician before using natural remedies, especially for anyone with preexisting conditions or anyone currently taking prescription medications. Although many efforts are made to ensure that the advice given on this site is professionally sound, the advice is not intended to replace a mutual relationship with a medical provider.

Related Pages on This Site

Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth – An Essential Multipurpose Product

Epsom Salts – Wellness and Goodness in a Milk Carton

A Low Salt Diet – The Greatest Health Risk Today

Effective Liver Flush for Gall Stones

The Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

Remedies for Colds, Cough, and Congestion – Simple Solutions for Less Confusion

Fight the Flu Naturally – Smart Ways to Feel Better Faster!

Sore Throat Pain Relief – Home Remedies and Concoctions


Plantain Gallery

Dandelion Information from Wildman Steve Brill

Lambs Quarters As Edible Wild Food

Healthiest Backyard Weeds

Stinging Nettles Remedies

62 Edible Wild Plants That You Didn't Know You Can Eat

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