Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Edible Wild Greens

Today we went to my friend Linda's house and she walked us around her property and showed us the edible wild greens growing in her own yard. I was very interested in this because I have spent good money buying the same greens that Linda finds growing freely. Most people consider these edibles to be pesky weeds, and spend good money to have their yards sprayed. Little do they know that they could save money on yard treatments AND save money on food, if only they are willing to live with a few "weeds." Anyway, Linda has further opened my eyes to just a few more of the countless wonders of God's creation, which I hope to share with you!

Here are a few books about Wild Greens. I liked the one on the top the best because it had the best illustrations. I'll probably buy one for myself.

Broadleaf Plantain

I was really interested in this edible. This one is easy for me to remember it because it has long fibers running lengthwise on the leaf, which reminds me of a banana, or plantain. When I got home I watched a video about it and learned a few things:
-The seeds are a good source of fiber.
-While eating a diet high in sugar attracts mosquitos, if you limit your sugar and eat about 3 plantain leaves, mosquitos should leave you alone.
-To neutralize an insect sting or help with acne, chew up a leaf of plantain and use it as a paste on the affected area.
-Warning: If you rub it on your skin it can increase your chances of getting sunburned.

Long Leaf Plantain

Sorry this isn't the best picture.

Lambsquarters (Lamb's Quarter)

This was probably the best tasting edible. It had a really mild taste and I can actually see myself munching on it as a snack. Linda said that she chops it up and puts it in omlettes. This is a picture of a young plant.

This is a picture of a mature lambsquarter. Notice the seedlings. We pulled those off and ate them too.


I brought a bag of this home and ran it through my juicer. Yum! It was so much better than the swiss chard and kale I have been juicing lately. K said it reminded him of mowing the lawn. Hmmm...maybe we had chickweed at the house and didn't even know it. Anyway, we found it growing underneath the trampoline. I think Linda said it likes shady areas. We also found a few leaves of henbit mixed in with the chickweed. Apparently it is edible too. The henbit leaf had a soft feel. I don't think I managed to get a picture of the henbit but you have the world at your fingertips if you care that much...

Wood Sorrel

This had a tangy taste (probably because it is very high in oxalic acid). It had three leaves that looked like little hearts. Linda said that the leaves fold up when it rains. It also had a pretty yellow flower. One of the ladies there today said that oxalic acid is actually good for you. This is news to me. Anyway, here is another take on oxalic acid, just in case you're interested. This guy, Col. Joe, claims that oxalic acid can cure cancer. I don't know if I believe that or not, but it is always interesting to learn about different perspectives. If Doug Kaufmann is right, which I believe he is, and cancer is a fungus, then could oxalic acid possibly have antifungal properties?

Lady's Thumb

This one had pretty pink flowers. I don't know much about this except that online I found that it can be used as salad greens.

Common Peppergrass

Burdock Root

Linda said that she used this to boost her immune system to prevent her from catching a virus from one of her children. It worked!

Prickly Lettuce

This looks very similar to a dandelion. The notable difference was the small prickles along the main vein of the leaf. Don't worry, the prickles aren't sharp, at least on the one I touched.


Warning: We did NOT eat this weed. Only certain parts of the pokeweed are edible. Additionally, you need to know WHEN in the life stage of the plant to eat the pokeweed. Linda said that she believed that the leaves of the young plant were edible, but once it reached a certain maturity the leaves would turn into carcinogens. So with that said, we didn't even attempt to eat it.

Last, and most definitely least, is this pesky weed. I can't remember it's name, but it is some sort of thistle. It is sharp and difficult to pull up. Linda said that even though those are edible (assuming that you want to go to the trouble to remove the spikes and boil the leaves), they are not supposed to be in their yard, so one of her boys dug it up. I guess you could eat it if you were really hungry, but otherwise it is just plain annoying!

We also saw dandelions and clover, but I didn't even think to take pictures of those since they are so common. However, here is a warning about dandelions.


  1. Great post Julie. Linda and I walked around the edge of my woods identifying edibles a couple of years back. We've stayed away from spraying and the weeds have really started showing up. I need to just start harvesting them to eat!

  2. I loved the post Julie. I learned more I copied and pasted the new info into my personal wild edible files. You really caught my interest with the Hawkweed. I found another site with close up pictures of the Hawkweed, whose flower was mentioned as resembling dandelion. Thankfully, not much else on the plant seems to look so deceivingly similar. http://www.minnesotawildflowers.info/flower/hairy-hawkweed

  3. ALWAYS cook the pokeweed LEAVES for about 30 min. They are delicious. Do NOT eat the berries.

    Looks like Linda did a great job of giving you a tour of the wild edibles! And I enjoyed reading about it! And the pics are great!