Signs of Spring & Edible Weeds

Right at the end of a uniquely cold January, we are all looking forward to Spring and the bright green growth on trees and in fields again. We might still have some cold spells, but there are some champion weeds that have starting appearing all over Central Texas the last couple weeks, they are telltale signs that Spring is in fact on its way!!

Chickweed

One of the tastiest, most versatile medicinal weeds around. Look for the plump stems/leaves and a small white flower. It likes moist soil and shady areas.

Edible parts
You can eat the stems leaves and flower of this plant raw. Cooked it’s similar to spinach in flavor and in the way it cooks.

Contains
Ascorbic-acid, beta-carotene, calcium, magnesium, niacin, potassium, riboflavin, selenium, thiamin, zinc, copper, and Gamma-linolenic-acid.

Used Traditionally
Has an extremely long list of medicinal & traditional uses internally and topically.

DANGERS
Chickweed contain a small amount of saponins, a soap like chemical, that can upset the stomach in large quantities. There are also a couple similar look alikes. Break the stem of your plant, if you see white specks coming out (latex) you have the wrong plant. Yellow flowers? Wrong plant.

                                               

 

 Henbit

About
A member of the mint family, chicken’s love it and it’s a great nectar source for hummingbirds. If you look closely you can see the vase-shaped, orchid-like, tiny flower this plant produces.

What Part
Stems leaves and flowers can be eaten raw, cooked or dried and made into tea. Stems can become stringy as it matures and tastes better cooked.

Used Traditionally
Anti-rheumatic, diaphoretic, an excitant, febrifuge, a laxative and a stimulant.

Contains
vitamins, iron, antioxidants, and fiber.

DANGERS
No toxic look-alikes, though edible dead nettle is often mistaken for it. Dead nettles stems are thicker and the distance from leaf to stem on the nettle is visibly greater in comparison. Dead nettle hairs itch the skin when they brush against you.

     

 

Cleavers

About
This easily identifiable plant was spread around the world by sticking to people & animals as they migrated. The plant has tiny hook-like hairs that allow it to stick to almost anything. It’s a member of the mint family although it does not have a minty smell. The leaves start small and slowly elongate as the plant matures, it has a tiny white flower when in bloom.

What Part
The leaves and stems can be eaten raw when young, but are much better cooked which removes the sticky hairs. The seeds can be roasted for tea or caffeine-free coffee substitute. The new growth of the plant is best for eating and cooking.

Contains
High in Vitamin C, flavonoids, tannins, fatty acids, glycoside asperuloside, gallotannic acid and citric acid.

Used Traditionally
Urinary Infection, Water retention, Oedema, Cystitis, Swollen Glands, Tonsillitis, Ulcers, Lumps, Tumours, Eczema, Psoriasis, Boils, Abscesses, Skin Irritations.

DANGERS
The small hairs on this plant can irritate your tongue. Be cautious to only harvest young sprouts for raw eating or cook the plant to remove the hairs. There are no common look-alikes or other known dangers associated with Cleavers.

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