You may be surprised to learn that there are plants growing right now in your back yard that can be eaten. While it is critical to always carefully identify and verify any wild plant you intend to consume or use in any way, there are often plants growing among our landscaped ornamentals that have nutritional value. Consult with an expert and never eat anything you are not 100 percent certain of being safe. Read on to find seven edible plants that you might have growing on your property right now.
1. Curly Dock
Curly Dock, also called Yellow Dock, is a common weed that grows in abandoned lots, fields, and many backyards across the U.S. It is a persitent weed that can sprout up everywhere from vacant parking lots to the most well-cared for grass lawn. The leaves and flowers are edible, and boiling them can remove some of their bitter taste.
Bittercress doesn’t have the word “bitter” in its name for nothing. This lacy plant is an edible weed that packs a bitter punch. But it is edible and the younger leaves tend to have a slightly more agreeable flavor. Boil the leaves and eat the flowers raw.
Even those who know very little about wild edibles will tell you dandelions can be eaten. Some farmer’s markets will even have dandelion salad mixes available for purchase in the summer months. The roots can be cooked, and the leaves and yellow blooms are eaten raw for salads. You can also make dandelion tea from the flowers, and it is said to be a traditional remedy for hay fever.
4. Wild Onions
Wild onions grow in many areas of North America, Europe, Africa, and Australia. They often resemble chives or small green scallions and can be eaten raw or cooked. Don’t look for baseball-sized sugary sweet onion bulbs though, the roots of these wild plants tend to be narrow and somewhat dry. Nevertheless, the entire plant is edible, cooked or fresh.
Chickweed is an herbaceous plant with lime-green leaves and tiny white flowers. Chickweed has many vitamins, a mild to sweet taste, and tends to grow in large beds. Chickweed thrives in cool weather and tends to wither and vanish in the hotter summer months. The leaves, flowers, and tender younger stems can all be eaten raw or cooked.
6. Ground Ivy
Ground ivy is related to mint and grows very low to the ground. It has a strong, pungent flavor, is most often eaten in small quantities, and even though it is related to mint, does not have a minty taste. Ground Ivy spreads easily and you can find it growing in shaded areas under trees where fallen tree leaves provide it with rich but lose soil for it to ramble over.
Plantain is a wide-leafed weed that grows sturdy heads that resemble lettuce. This edible plant has long been used by Native Americans and is common throughout Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. It grows in wooded lots and forest edges, and is also common in the backyards and side lots of many mountain homes. The leaves are edible and cooking reduces the bitter taste.