Edible Pioneer Plants (Weeds)

First, please remember, be safe with wild edibles:

  1. Properly identify the plant using three different sources
  2. Identify which part(s) of the plant are edible
  3. Be mindful of what external factors might affect the plant, i.e. is this dandelion in a yard that is sprayed with fertilizers, pesticides, or other chemicals? If so, take caution and use your best judgment.
  4. As with eating any new food, use moderation. Processing new foods can be challenging for your body.

Some firsthand experience: A few years ago, I discovered plantain in my yard (not the bananas, the leafy greens). I remembered to identify it using multiple sources, which parts were edible, and I knew the yard was free of chemical sprays, but I was so excited about all this free food around me that I neglected the 4th rule, use moderation when eating new foods. I ate a lot of plantain that day. That evening, I woke up in the middle of the night with the most horrible stomachache and proceeded to vomit 5 times, with such violence that I broke the blood vessels in both my eyes and all around my face. Lesson learned the hard way. USE MODERATION.

Here is a list taken from Toby Hemenway’s Gaia’s Garden, p142

Common Name Botanical Name Edible part
Burdock Arctium lappa Root
Chamomile, German Matricaria matricarioides Flower
Cheese mallow Malva parviflora Leaf, seed
Chickweed Stellaria media Leaf
Chicory Cichorium intybus Leaf, root, flower
Cleavers Galium trifidum Leaf
Dandelions Taraxacum officinale Leaf, root (roasted), flower
Dock, curly Rumex persicarioides Leaf, root
Dock, yellow Rumex crispus Leaf, root
Epazote Chenopodium ambrosioides Leaf
Garlic mustard Allicaria officinalis Leaf, root, seed
Garlic, wild Allium ursinum Leaf, root, flower
Goldenrod Solidago spp. Flower (for tea or spice)
Horseweed Conyza canadensis Young leaves
Knotweed Polygonum cuspidatum Shoot
Kudzu Pueraria lobata Leaf, root (powdered as starch)
Lamb’s quarters Chenopodium album Leaf
Lettuce, wild Lactuca scariola Leaf
Milk thistle Silyium marianum Young leaves, flower buds
Mint Mentha spp. Leaf
Mustard, wild Brassica spp. Leaf, flower, seed
Pigweed Amaranthus retroflexus Leaf, seed
Pineapple weed Matricaria matricarioides Leaf (for tea)
Plantain Plntago spp. Leaf, seed
Purslane Portulaca oleracea Leaf
Queen Anne’s Lace Daucus carota Leaf, flower, root
Shepherd’s purse Capsella bursa-pastoris Leaf, seed, seedpod
Sorrel, sheep Rumex acetosella Leaf
Sow thistle Sonchus oleraceus Leaf
Stringing nettle Urtica dioica Leaf (cooked)
Wintercress Barbarea vulgaris Leaf