Five weeds I’ve eaten this summer and I still haven’t died.
This may be my last will and testament. I have eaten five weeds from my yard and I may, in fact, have picked–my last weed.
Here’s what I have eaten:
- Common Dandelion, Taraxacam officinale
- Wild purslane, Portulaca oleracea
- Spiderwort,Tradescantia sp.
- Turk’s Cap, Malvaviscus arboreus
- Common Blue Violet, Viola sororia
To my eternally loyal husband, whom I love so dearly: can you start a load of laundry? I’m out of clean socks.
Actually, all the plants that I have listed, are in fact edible. Baring some cultural misconceptions of what plants are “weeds”, any one of these plants can look cute in a garden or in a pot. (Yes even a field of dandelions can look cute!)
I actually started writing this article about the same time my dog got sick from eating bad compost. Her health went crashing down so hard, even after medication, that I had to wonder if some of the plants in my yard were more toxic than I had expected. While on the phone with the Puppy Poison Control, I asked about the likelihood of some my plants being the culprit of her sudden decline. Although there was no way to determine the exact plant toxins in her system, since she had expelled any physical remnants, the vet did some blood work to rule out any likely suspects that may have made their way into the bloodstream.
As I waited on the results of the blood work, I began to take another look at what plants my other dogs were eating. Most of the plants they chewed on were remnants of a former lawn. The few odd “weeds” that they also grazed on, were native plants that I had planted for their durability. What I found was that the toxic plants were left alone by all the pets, including our free-range tortoise, and the tender tasty plants were eaten by everyone including some birds.
Now I’m NOT encouraging you to go out and eat every herbaceous plant in your yard to see if it’s edible. Because many garden plants are toxic and deadly and before you consider nibbling on that “dandelion-like” plant, you should do considerable research, since flowers alone, do not indicate nor authenticate the edibility of that plant. That being said, I do want you to re-consider the multi-purpose-ness of some plants. What we have in our grocery stores are not the only edible fruits, roots, and vegetables.
As I started to dive deep into the possible toxicity of the plants in my yard, I ran across the website, Foraging Texas. Since stumbling across this site, I have been obsessed with growing MORE native & edible plants in my yard. (Excluding the ones toxic to my pets). Each time I run down the plants listed on the left-hand side of the website, a new “weed” catches my eye and I click to learn more about that plant.
Mark “Merriwether” Vorderbruggen, is the author of the site, and he has a book called, Foraging: Over 30 Tasty Recipes to Turn Your Foraged Finds into Feasts (Idiot’s Guides)
I haven’t ready the book but, it has a 4.8 out of 5 start and 154 reviews on Amazon. So that must count for something.
If you don’t absorb information through books, then you can always watch Merriwether’s World on YouTube.
Some plants look very similar to extremely poisonous ones, so I can’t stress this enough–RESEARCH before you touch. Plants have feelings too, and some use contact dermatitis to keep you from feeling them as well.
Disclaimer: The information provided to links on this post are from the website Foraging Texas. Using the information on this web site or information that is found on the links provided is only intended to be a general summary of information to the public. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information on this post. However, I make no warranties, expressed or implied, regarding errors or omissions and assume no legal liability or responsibility for any injuries resulting from the use of the information contained within. Please be aware that “wild” plants are susceptible to absorbing chemicals as related to agricultural runoff, cancerous fumes from cars along roadsides, and a multitude of miscellaneous bacteria and pests, hiding amongst the leaves and petals. Please use your head, common sense or just simply admire in awe at the diversity of biology on our planet and proceed with caution.