Most people don’t look at backyard weeds as something “edible.” They look at them as pests- something that is a nuisance and needs to be destroyed. Yet there are many edible and medicinal weeds– all waiting for you beyond your doorstep!
Recently I had the opportunity to travel to a farm for a half-day workshop, to learn more about herbs. Specifically, common backyard plants and their benefits. It was extremely rewarding and I was so excited to get out with the group and forage on the farm.
We walked around the property with swinging baskets in tow; filling each until they overflowed with plant material. It was like being on Little House, only better because we had cell phones. I was able to snap some shots of herbs for future reference (take that Laura Ingles!).
One of the plants I had the pleasure of working with was chickweed: something I had seen but never knew what it was.
A couple days following the workshop, I was surprised to find a sea of chickweed growing right in my own backyard. Score!
Working With Chickweed
You can forage your own chickweed from your backyard. Just make sure you properly ID it with more than just this blog post lol (google it or check out a reference book at the library). Now that it’s spring you will probably see a lot of it flowering outside. You will notice that chickweed has tiny white flowers, and I’ve read that they close at night and open in the morning. You can eat the stems, leaves, flowers, and seeds. It tastes somewhat like spinach or snap peas, so it’s yummy to eat raw. You can toss it in salads, or use them in soups and stir-fry’s. Other options of course is hot/cold infusions (tea), and use in lotions, salves, and tinctures.
For a hot infusion/tea, try this: Stuff your fresh plant material in a pint jar until it is about 1/4 full. If you want an exact measurement, do 2 parts herbs to 16 parts water. Pour hot water over material, cover, and let sit for about 20-30 minutes. You can then strain out the herbs or pour out what you want. Store remaining tea in your fridge for 1-2 days.
“Chickweed is particularly high in ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and mucilage, and also provides rutin, para amino benzoic acid (PABA), gamma linolenic acid (GLA, an omega-6 fatty acid derivative), niacin, riboflavin (B2), thiamin (B1), beta carotene (A), magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, manganese, sodium, selenium, and silicon.” (Source: Emergency Outdoors)
- Use topically for skin issues and rashes; relieves itching/inflammation.
- Use internally for ulcers, GI irritability, asthma, bronchitis, or as a laxative (in large doses)
Go out in your yard today and look for Chickweed. This medicinal plant could be hiding right under your nose!
What is your favorite herb? Share in the comments below!