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What is a weed?


Back when I was a little girl, a weed was anything that my grandma didn’t want growing in her lawn- and I got $5/hr to remove them!

These days, my definition of a weed is, well, shrinking.  What were formally, most certainly weeds, I have come to discover are in fact, quite edible.  In fact a weed is really just a plant that is undesirable in a certain situation.  mint, for example, is super invasive, but if you go to Whole Foods you’ll find it selling for $5 a bunch!  Weeds aren’t the problem, but its what we do with them that makes them a problem or not.  When I was in the Seattle area, I noticed there were wild blackberry bushes growing everywhere!  I thought, ‘how amazing!  These people have access to wild blackberries throughout the entire season!’  Come to find out that these wild blackberry bushes grow quite quickly and some even find them to be rather invasive.  In a way, they are also a type of weed, uninvited and very presumptuous (for a plant).

So as a reminder to myself, and as a favor to anyone who is in fact still reading these words, I have decided to list a few of the California native ‘weeds’ that are edible.  Forget salad bars, lets start foraging!

Here’s a pretty illustration of some of the common edible weeds that are found in Southern California.

This is mallow.  Mallow is EVERYWHERE right now, including the farm.  Mallow can be used as a mild laxative, diuretic, anti-inflammatory that helps clear mucus from the body.  You can eat the leaves and the stems.  IT has beneficial polysaccharide and antioxidant compounds that include phenols, flavonoids, carotenoids, tocopherols and ALA fatty acids.  So if you are suffered get from gut issues or want to help control your inflammation, this might not be a bad (and free) option to try!

Lambsquarter is a mineral rich ‘weed’.  Even the dust on the leaves is full of mineral salts from the soil.  About one cup of its greens contain 73% of your daily Vitamin A and 96% of your daily vitamin C.  It contains B vitamins including thiamine, riboflavin and niacin.  This plant is best eaten when the leaves are young, and you can thrown them in a salad just like you would spinach.

Ah Stinging nettle…friend or foe I still don’t know.  However, it is an edible plan and is often used to make medicinal tea.  It’s an antioxidant, antimicrobial, antiulcer, astringent and analgesic.  Today it is mainly used to treat urinary problems, allergies and joint pain.  You can make a tea from the leaves, or sautéed them.  Some people make tinctures out of them or even create tablets or capsules to sell.

These are only a few here that I have seen the most throughout the farm.

Comments ( 2 )

  • Valentina Garcia says:

    Hey, thanks, Tammy, for this great info on WEEDS!
    I love edible weeds and have eaten several types. Thanks for capsulizing your descriptions of these weeds. I like reading but love it when writers get to the point quickly 😉
    I’m going to save your post for future reference when I go foraging in my yard 🙂

  • Angelita Muhammad says:

    Mallow IS EVERYWHERE! I did not know that’s what that “weed” looks like so, thanks for sharing! Mallow extract is sold in health food stores and can be found in tincture and stomach formulas as well. How exciting to see it everywhere now that you have opened my eyes to be able to identify it. Thanks!

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