By Kristie Nackord
Weeds. We spend countless hours attempting to remove these pesky plants from our yards, gardens or fields, but isn’t it funny how they seem to persevere?
Perhaps we should look at weeds in a new light — some are in fact among the most wholesome sources of food and medicine available to us. Knowing this might stop us dead in our weed-stalking tracks!
Below I’ve listed three types of rascally weeds and some of their nutritional and medicinal uses. Each type offers much more than what I’ve shared here, so I encourage you to look them up in your favorite herb or botanical book and learn more. Please note, if you have sprayed them or if they have been in close proximity to a road where they have been exposed to car exhaust and fumes, then please do not consume! Please also be sure to positively identify the plant before consuming.
- Lambs-Quarter (Chenopodium album): More nutritious than spinach, grab this delicious green before it goes to seed as it will become bitter. Offering a slightly nutty flavor, you can add it to your pesto, make a tincture with it, or add it to your salad mix. It is loaded with calcium and iron, as well as vitamins A and C, and other delightful and essential nutrients.
- Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale): Besides making wishes with the seed heads, dandelion leaf and root is very supportive for cleansing your liver and gall bladder and ridding your body of any unwanted toxins. Slightly diuretic, dandelion is also very nutritious and tastes delicious in salads or your favorite herbal tea.
- Plantain (Plantago major): a very low-growing perennial weed, plantain leaves are edible and can be enjoyed steamed, in your salad, or brewed into tea. The leaves get bitter as the plant matures, so grab the early shoots for your calcium and other essential vitamins. Plantain is also fantastic for treating any skin disorders such as mosquito bites, cuts and irritations. Crush the leaves between your fingers and rub the juice from the leaves over the injured area.
If you are interested in learning more about these weeds or other herbs and their uses, stop by the Westcliffe Farmers Market every Thursday from 2-5 p.m. where herbalists selling products that include some of our favorite weeds can share more with you.