Wild Weeds You Can Eat: Picking Nature’s Superfoods (for free)
Nature really is bountiful and does provide, as long as you know where to look and what to look for. Along with Spring comes picking and foraging, activities that I have recently added to my healthy habits. As someone who really doesn’t know much at all about flower, plants, trees, this is really so easy, if I can do it, anyone can do it! You can read a bit more about my late summer adventures in finding and using wild and homegrown herbs for health in this article.
Here are a few weeds that you will find growing in abundance at this time of year – you don’t even need your own garden as you will find these growing in any big park, public gardens, meadows, woodlands, wastelands and other wild places. Pick from areas that are away from busy, polluted main roads and away from the immediate edge of walking paths where cats and dogs may have done their business! Remember to bring gloves, scissors, bag with you so that you can safely pick them without being stung.
Nettle – this is one of my favourites. This weed grows pretty much everywhere and has so many healthful qualities.
Benefits: It is a diuretic, contains zinc, iron, vitamin C and a whole host of vitamins and minerals. It increases milk production in nursing mothers and is a natural anti-histamine, helping in cases of hay fever and other seasonal allergies and helps to relieve joint pain.
How to eat them: Add it to soups and steep it to make a herbal tea.
Dandelion – dandelion leaves are at their best when they’re just growing up from the ground and this is the time to pick and eat them (don’t eat the weeds when the plants is flowering – although you can eat their yellow flowers. They have an early and late season so you have a second chance to catch them in late Autumn if you don’t catch them in early spring). More mature plants can be recognised by their bright yellow flowers and those fluffy, white ‘balls’ that children (and bigger children) love blowing on to see all these little fluffy bits float gently to the ground (you do know what I mean, right?!).
Benefits: The leaves are higher in beta-carotene than carrots and their iron and calcium content is higher than that in spinach! They contain most of the B vitamins plus others. Used as a tonic, they are especially beneficial for liver and gallbladder health, promoting the flow of bile. Diuretic, a general digestive tonic, helps to regulate sugar levels. Avoid dandelion if you have an irritable bowel, stomach or suffer from acute inflammation.
How to eat them: Add dandelion to your salads, smoothies, juices, steam and sautee them. They can taste quite bitter.
Bishop’s Weed (also known as goutweed, herb gerard) – this grows as an edging around gardens and it really does grow, forming massive low lying bunches (…a real farmer’s plague!). It can be recognised by its little white flowers.
Benefits: Apparently considered to be an aphrodisiac in India. Medicinally it is beneficial in cases of goat, arthritis, rheumatism, is diuretic so helpful for bladder disorders.
How to eat them: Add to your salads, juices, smoothies, soups. They have a rather aromatic taste.
Daisies – we all know what these look like!
Benefits: Make a daisy chain then eat it, your liver will thank you for it. You can also eat the leaves. Daisies are beneficial in cases of respiratory problems.
How to eat them: Add these to salads or decorate any meal with them.
If you’re interested in seeking out and gathering wild edibles I would strongly recommend that you pop down to your local bookshop and have a browse through guides that can help you identify various herbs, weeds, flowers, berries and what time of year to go foraging for them. This can be so much fun and brings a whole new level of awareness to your healthy living and eating, bringing you closer to nature and the wonders it has to offer your health.
Are you a wild edibles gatherer? What tricks and tips can you share with us? What’s your favourite way of preparing them?