Weeds List and Identification
Spring Pea Shoots
A Great weed plant is the pea shoot often served as sweet peas at Chinese restaurants and as pretty, graceful vines at the farmers market. They are lovely in salads and, not surprisingly, taste like peas.
Because they're so tender, many spring greens can be thrown right into the salad bowl.
Arugula was a Mediterranean weed until recently.
Arugula is "very similar to its wild ancestor," NY Times Robinson notes, and "rich in cancer-fighting compounds called glucosinolates and higher in antioxidant activity than many green lettuces.
Robinson also points to herbs, which she calls "wild plants incognito." That is, they much more closely resemble their wild antecedents than do, say, modern apples or tomatoes or corn. She adds: "We've long valued them for their intense flavors and aroma, which is why they've not been given a flavor makeover. Because we've left them well enough alone, their phytonutrient content has remained intact." Robinson's paean to herbs reminded me of my love for parsley, and how I've come to shower it on every meal, and even give it the starring role in a salad.
Oregano great Perrenial
Burpee Herb Oregano Seed
Model # 56838 HD $1 Store SKU # 290004 The Burpee Herb Oregano Seed produces an herb that can be used as a flavoring in tomato sauces, egg and cheese dishes, vegetable stews, meat and chicken dishes and pizza. Sow outdoors in full sun after danger of last frost or when temperatures remain above 45F.
Use in Italian dishes Designed to grow in full-sun exposure Germinates in 10 - 21 days Plant 12 in. apart
Parsley - SUPER-FOOD
Another example is parsley, and chefs often shower it on every meal, and even give it the starring role in salads.
Burpee Parsley Single Italian Plain-Leafed Seed Model # 66084 HD $1 Store SKU # 290008 The Burpee Parsley Single Italian Plain-Leafed Seed is a great addition to any herb garden. Use it to grow parsley that you can add to salad dressings, soups and homemade pesto.
Designed for sunny areas 8 weeks to harvest Plant 6 in. apart 12 - 18 in. mature height Has a more pronounced flavor than the curled-leaf variety Spacing: 6 In.
- Dandelion greens proliferate and indicate spring is in place, adding a bitter note to those spring weed salads.
Dandelions can be a problem for all property owners. Just one dandelion plant makes up to 15,000 seeds, each of which can survive six years in the soil—creating 15,000 more seeds when it sprouts and matures.
They sell for several dollars a pound at a local organic food store but pick them not buy them!
The blooms, buds, leaves and roots are all edible.
The blooms and buds are best when batter fried.
The greens are excellent prepared as a potherb like spinach but also make a welcome addition to any fresh salad. The older leaves can be bitter, so the young spring greens make better salads.
- The roots can be peeled, sliced and cooked like boiled carrots. Unless you treat your yard with weed killers or live in the desert, you’ll have no problem gathering dandelions in spring and summer.
Dandelions were cultivated in European gardens for centuries. The French found the affinity of dandelion greens to warm bacon, and the Italians sprinkled their cooked greens with a little hot pepper. Dandelions were intentionally brought to the New World for their uses as food and medicine.
Dandelions, of course, grow everywhere, but they also are cultivated, and markets usually carry the farm-raised version, which are less bitter than those in your front yard. Dandelion greens should be eaten in the early spring when they are the most tender.
Often a major component of heavily grazed native pasture - cattle eat, and distribute with fertilizer.
One of the most adorable of the spring greens. These tightly coiled fern fronds poke through the earth just after the snow melts. They look like the scroll at the top of a fiddle, hence the name.
Fiddleheads only stay curled up for about two weeks before opening into lovely, but inedible, ferns. For the best eating, fiddleheads should be a deep green, firm and no more than 1 ½ inches in diameter.
In her wonderful, useful book Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables (Harper & Row 1986), Elizabeth Schneider writes that Vermont and Maine are prime fiddlehead terrain. But the unfurled ferns, she writes, are found along rivers and streams as far south as Virginia, as far north as Newfoundland and west across half the country. They're available from early spring through early summer, depending on the region of the country.
Chickweed: Stellaria media
Chickweed is a delicious wild edible green.
- Chickweed - Salads of chickweed—a grassy-tasting plant that popped up just after the ground thawed really early in spring.
Sailors used to store chickweed in on ships to supplement their diets to prevent scurvy because it’s rich in vitamin C. The leaves and stems are the edible bits. They can be added raw to salads but are also delicious when added to stir fries and pasta dishes. Chickweed loves backyards. Find it along fence rows, rocks and concrete walls. It grows low to the ground in dense mats. The stems can sometimes have a reddish hue and it grows one thin line of ‘hair’ down each stem. Chickweed sap is clear.
- Watercress common on the marshy banks of a creek, tender, peppery watercress sprout also in earlier part of spring. Chefs love it!
- Nettle - On wood roads up the forested mountainside, would come a flush of stinging nettle—we'd harvest the leaves with gloves, boil their sting away, and add them to pastas and pizzas.
High summer weeds
- High summer weeds eg in plowed fields: a high-rising, spinach-related green called lamb's quarters
- Purslane - a low-slung, creeping plant has succulent, lemony leaves.
Garlic mustard: Alliaria petiolata
Garlic mustard is an invasive weed and prevalent in much of the United States.
It has heart-shaped, deeply veined leaves. It also has an amazing ability to photosynthesize even in very cold temperatures. Garlic mustard is one of the first wild edibles to pop up in the spring and can even be found in mild winter months.
It is a biennial flowering plant, which means it grows two years. The first year it grows as a low forming rosette of leaves and stems. The second year it grows tall (3-4 feet) and blooms.
The leaves are edible both years and make excellent flavor additions to a variety of dishes.
It has a heavy garlic taste and flavors other cooked greens and soups very well.