Once used as a medicinal treatment for several conditions including arthritis.
This weed isn’t a prolific spreader, but it grows freely in barren soil. People have used the soft, furry leaves as toilet paper throughout history, which is why it is sometimes called Cowboy Toilet Paper.
Eating: Consume the shoots in the early spring. Once the cones turn brown, this plant turns bitter.
16. Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
Eating: The leaves and flowers of this plant are edible. Use it in soups, salads, cocktails, and desserts.
Caution: Despite its name, don’t let horses eat this weed. It’s poisonous to them.
Tastes like: This plant has a lovely pepper flavor.
Tastes like: For being such an invasive plant, it has a delicate flavor a bit like snow peas.
For milkweed recipes, I’ve got quite a few tasty ones listed in this milkweed foraging guide, and there are even more in the book Forage, Harvest, Feast including a delicious looking milkweed blossom cordial that I’m going to make this summer.
One of the most invasive weeds out there, and very difficult to eradicate. Luckily, it’s also delicious, with a taste a lot like rhubarb raw and a bit like asparagus cooked.
It has some of the highest naturally occurring levels of Omega 3’s in plants, along with a host of other nutrients that put it in the class of “superfoods.” Try a simple purslane salad to get started, but then get creative…
Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
The scientific name, galinsoga, is often mispronounced and it eventually took on the common name “gallant soldier” as a result. There’s nothing particularly gallant about this weed, but it does soldier on all summer, remaining tender and edible well after flowering.
Personally, I’m less excited about using it as a green and more excited about using it as a seasoning. This garlic mustard chimichurri sounds perfect.
The trick is, the plants can easily be confused with very toxic water hemlock. When in bloom, I think it’s easy to tell them apart, but this is one mistake that can be deadly. I’d recommend avoiding Queen Anne’s Lace until you’re really confident in your identification. For more information on positively identifying this edible weed, read up on the difference between it and poison hemlock.
Each flower contains a tiny drop of honeydew at its base, and rural children in New England spend summers harvesting the blossoms for a teeny tiny sweet treat. The flowers are often made into clover tea. The blossoms can also be ground into clover flour, which can replace flour in baked goods. The blossoms can also be baked into things whole, like in these clover and strawberry cookies. Clover greens are an edible wild salad green, though not one of my favorites.