Edible Lawn Weeds

March 30, 2020

As a follow up to my talk on RNZ this morning I thought I'd post up a visual guide for foraging for Edible Lawn Weeds at your place. If you are lucky enough to have a lawn or access to a park within a walk away from your place to forage from during the Covid 19 lockdown there really is some wonderful benefits to eating the weeds! 

 

You do not need to have a heap of these weeds, rather look at them as a nutritious herb to add to dishes, smoothies and juices. Otherwise cooking these greens will remove some of the bitterness so cook as you would silverbeet or spinach, and this is the best choice to have larger quantities and you can use them in similar ways like as a filling for pies, pinwheels, pasta or soups.

 

 

I haven't let Mr Veggie Tree mow the lawns for almost a year now and I pick greens (and flowers in the spring and summer) everyday to feed my family. I have them chopped on my toast every morning and add them to all sorts of dishes as a herb substitute or in place of leafy greens in a salad or in a pesto. These are just a collection from my garden, there are many more edible lawn weeds including chickweed, wild mustard, dock, oxalis and comfrey, caution is advised for the latter two however.

   

 

Nasturtium


Nasturtium leaves and flowers are great chopped up into salads for a peppery note similar to cress or wild rocket or used as a parcel wrap in place of cabbage or vine leaves. Tasting peppery, like watercress, these make a lovely salad addition. I have them on my peanut butter toast most mornings.

 

Medicinal and health benefits:

They are high in Vitamin C and a natural antibiotic, immune boosting, antibacterial, anti-fungal and antibacterial. High in minerals and a tea made from nasturtium can be used as a skin toner, eating a couple of the leaves at the beginning of a cold can stop it in its tracks but avoid if pregnant.

 

Garden notes: 

Nasturtiums planted near broccoli will keep the aphids away and benefit radish and potatoes when planted with them. Nasturtium makes an excellent herb tea both for spraying and watering onto plants.

 

 

Onion weed

 

A pest and invasive weed to many this is my favourite edible ‘weed’. Its juicy stalks and pretty little white flowers are a perfect alternative to chives and spring onions with its delicate onion flavour. The entire plant is edible including the bulbs that can be harvested in late summer. Use the flowers to garnish salads, egg dishes, soups, dips, they pretty much make anything look impressive!

 

Medicinal and health benefits:

Helps reduce blood cholesterol levels, stimulates the circulatory blood system, it is antimicrobial and acts as a digestive system tonic plus it contains chlorophyll, fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. 

 

 

Plantain

 

Grassy with a slightly nutty, slightly bitter taste the older leaves can be ‘stringy’. The young leaves are great for a wild salad and as they get older are better cooked and could be used with other wilted greens in pie fillings, soups, cannelloni or ravioli filling.

 

Medicinal and health benefits:

Plantain possesses many qualities which make it ideal for use in a skin healing poultice. It is a natural pain killer and anti-inflammatory. It is also naturally antiseptic and anti-viral, as well as an anti-histamine. As such, you can use plantain to heal just about any kind of skin malady including (but not limited to) mozzie bites bee stings, poison ivy rash, infections, hemorrhoids, splinters, glass shards, boils, blisters, small cuts and scrapes, and even eczema.

 

 

Chicory

 

This very common wild green grows in most people’s lawns (if given a chance), it comes from the same family as the dandelion and looks similar but has less jagged leaves and the common one that grows in lawns is more lettuce like. It is a little bitter but this is why it is so good for us. It has a blue or sometimes white flower in the spring and summer.

 

Medicinal and health benefits:

It carries numerous medicinally important compounds such as inulin along with fiber that help reduce blood glucose and cholesterol levels. The leaf contains good levels of vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin K, C, B6, B1 and B3 as well as folic acid, calcium, manganese, copper iron and potassium, and that’s just the leaves!

The chicory roots contain many of these goodies as well as the all import Inulin, a prebiotic that is essential for good gut health.

 

 

Clover

 

Clover is a flowering plant, which blossoms, leaves, and stems can be used as medicine. There is red and white varieties.

 

Medicinal and health benefits:

Red clover blossoms can be made into ointments or made into teas and can be used used for cancer prevention, indigestion, high cholesterol, whooping cough, cough, asthma, bronchitis, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Some women use red clover for symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes; for breast pain or tenderness (mastalgia); and for premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Or to treat fungal infections, burns, wounds, gout, and eye diseases.

White clover was traditionally used to purify and cleanse the blood. A tea made from the blossoms can be used as an eyewash. Tincture the leaves to use as an ointment for gout. Make a tea infusion to fight fevers and colds

 

 

Borage

 

Borage also known as star flower the petals have a cucumber taste and the stamens add a hint of sweetness. As we are in Autumn at the moment here in New Zealand and the little new leaves of borage are appearing, these are lovely in a salad as a delicate cucumber substitute, in rice rolls or with mint in a raita (yoghurt sauce) to accompany curries and middle eastern dishes. When they are still young they aren’t so spiky as the older leaves can be. The flowers are a pretty garnish for salads, soups and desserts.

 

Medicinal and health benefits:

High in Vitamins C and A as well as minerals including Iron, Calcium and Potassium. Pregnant and lactating women should avoid borage flowers, as more than eight to ten flowers can cause milk to flow. They can also have a diuretic effect, so should not be eaten in great quantity.

 

Garden notes:

Borage loves to be planted with tomatoes, strawberries, cabbage and pumpkin.

 

 

 

Dandelion

 

Dandelions are one of the most health giving, nutritious and abundant wild edibles.

Dandelions are perennials that grow in a rosette and are commonly found all over New Zealand in lawns, pastures, roadsides, and wasteland. A little bitter which get the digestive juices ready for action they are delicious in a pesto, chopped through a salad or used as a herb chopped up and stirred through the dish before serving.They originate from Europe and are known for their deep tap roots which easily break when you try to dig them up. They don’t give up easily and will send up more leaves bringing up minerals from deep in the soil, benefiting the plants around them and us.  Dandelions are one of the most health giving, nutritious and abundant wild edibles. They can be dug up in autumn when the plant is withdrawing its energy into the root, dry roasted and ground into a delicious coffee substitute

 

Medicinal and health benefits:

The leaves contain high amounts of Vitamins A, B and C, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorous, and other minerals. They also contain 32% protein in 100g which is an impressive amount just from green leaves.  Dandelion leaves are bitter which stimulates the release of saliva, and improves digestion. They are also a tonic, help lower cholesterol levels, increase blood and lymph circulation and are blood purifiers.  The leaves and flower can be used in smoothies, salads, pesto’s and stir-fries.  The flower-heads can be used to make wine and tinctures

 

Garden notes:

Dandelion exudes a substance that inhibits the growth of neighbouring plants, however it does make a great plant tea and is good for the compost.

 

 

 

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