Wednesday, September 21, 2005


I am fascinated by weeds: the weeds in my yard, the concept of weeds, the origins and history of different weeds (part & parcel of my former academic interests in the origins of agriculture), and eating weeds, for which I recommend James Duke's Handbook of Edible Weeds. From the library, because I saw when I made that link that even used copies are selling for over $80.

In my yard: goosefoot (aka lambsquarters or Chenopodium album), pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus), purslane, carpetweed, plaintain, dandelion, goatsbeard, jewelweed, Canadian thistle, black nightshade, goldenrod, ragweed, stinging nettle, horsetail, Japanese knotweed, wood sorrel (aka 'sweet clover'), white clover, shepherd's purse, prostrate spurge (one of the few I actively dislike), creeping charlie (or creeping jenny or ground ivy), crabgrass, Queen Anne's lace, pokeweed, knotgrass, daisy fleabane, and I'm sure many more. I think all of these except jewelweed and purslane are introduced (invasive) species. This isn't too surprising considering these weeds are adapted to my lawn, garden areas, and the disturbed edge of a soybean field/sump pump drainage ditch/creek behind the yard.

I know there were native chenopods and amaranths; I have some lovely Mexican amaranth (pigweed) volunteers. But the really agressive ones here are the European varieties.

A flowering weed;
Hearing its name,
I looked anew at it.


Anonymous said...

Thankyou for your passion about weeds. I'm in Australia and have just started experimenting by myself, slowly and carefully. I'm enjoying the wild, strong and subtle flavours. Chewing very slowly and tasting all the flavours helps with seeing this as food. Could you tell me any principles to follow for not poisoning myself, but being opened minded (and trying almost anything!!) Sorry, I don't have my own blog yet, but will get one soon.

Yours in the wild- Oliver.

Sandy said...

I'd check and see if there are any Native (or Aboriginal) ethnobotany books on whatever area you're in - it's always fairly safe to rely on centuries of cultural knowledge of a region. Also, historical stuff, since I'm sure that there are lots of introduced plants. If you can't find those, I would be very careful about eating from plant families & species that you can identify. Finally, if tastes bad (especially bitter), there's a good chance it's poisonous.

Sandy D. said...

Add cleavers and purple deadnettle to this list. And garlic mustard.