They crop up in our flower beds, gardens and yards the moment we turn our backs. Cathy Isom tells us why we should appreciate the unwanted weed that just won’t go away. That’s coming up on This Land of Ours.
From: National Day Calendar
National Weed Appreciation Day
Did you know that some weeds are actually beneficial to us and our ecosystem? National Weed Appreciation Day is celebrated on March 28th of each year, and it is a good day to learn more about weeds and their benefits.
Do you remember as a small child the fun you had with dandelions? They actually serve many useful purposes. Dandelions are a food source for insects and certain birds. Humans eat young dandelion leaves and enjoy dandelion tea and dandelion wine. The Native Americans used dandelions to treat certain ailments. Nutritionally, dandelions contain a source of vitamin A and C, calcium, iron and fiber.
There are also other edible and medicinal weeds, some of which include:
Yellow Dock/Burdock: The taproot of young burdock plants can be harvested and eaten as a root vegetable. Immature flower stalks may also be harvested in late spring before flowers appear. The young stalk taste resembles that of an artichoke. It is a good source of dietary fiber and certain minerals, including calcium and potassium. It is also used as a medicinal herb.
Lamb’s Quarter: (also known as goosefoot) The leaves of lamb’s quarter are excellent added to lettuce salads or cooked and used as a replacement for spinach. Lamb’s quarter seeds are also edible. They are a good source of protein and vitamin A.
Amaranth: (also known as pigweed) Amaranth species are cultivated and consumed as a leaf vegetable in many parts of the world. The leaves can be cooked, and it’s seeds can be harvested and cooked the same as quinoa. The root of mature amaranth is a popular vegetable. It is white and usually cooked with tomatoes or tamarind gravy. It has a milky taste and is alkaline. It is high in vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, K, B6, calcium and iron, and the seeds are a good source of protein.
Purslane: It may be eaten as a leaf vegetable, but is considered a weed in the United States. It has a slightly sour and salty taste. The stems, leaves and flower buds are all edible. Purslane may be used fresh as salad, stir-fried or cooked as spinach is, and because of its sticky quality, it also is suitable for soups and stews. It is a good source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and is high in omega-3 fatty acids. Purslane can be found growing in all 50 states.
Dollarweed: (also known as pennywort) is an aquatic plant that thrives in a wet, sandy habitat. It is native to North America and parts of South America. It can also be found growing as introduced species and sometimes a noxious weed on other continents. It is an edible weed that can be used in salads or as a pot herb.
Before using any weed as a food source, make sure it is correctly identified and that it is free of herbicides and pesticides. Research the safe edible part of each weed and find useful cooking and preparation tips.
How to Observe:
Use #WeedAppreciationDay to post on social media.
(top right) Dandelion – By Angel caboodle at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13211626
(top left) Dandelion seed head – By Greg Hume – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17890537
(bottom right) Amaranth-By Kurt Stüber – caliban.mpiz-koeln.mpg.de/mavica/index.html part of www.biolib.de, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7405
(bottom left) Dollarweed – By Lorenzarius – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=670294