Weeds, they come from all sides of the plant kingdom. Their favorite habitat is bare, disturbed soil. They developed in harsh environments and this is where they thrive well. They can germinate and grow really fast. And this is their characteristics that we fail to see that plays a critical role in bringing about a healthy ecosystem. And they are merely undoing the damages we caused to the environment.
Now, let us take a look at some of edible weeds and the other benefits they can give which may somehow change the way we look at them… pesky weeds.
Bamboo – a notoriously invasive giant grass, but produces shoots that are deliciously edible. A frequent ingredient in Asian cooking because of its fiber rich content. To the Japanese, it’s the king of forest vegetable. It can be served as a daily dish because it is non-toxic and highly nutritious. It is rich in protein, amino acids, fat, inorganic salt and sugar. Its medicinal benefits include treatment of hypertension and hyperglycemia because it’s low in sugar, cancer prevention due to its anti-cancer agents, eliminate free radicals in the body. It is also perfect for weight loss.
Japanese Knotweed – often mistaken as a bamboo, this weed belongs to the buckwheat family. They look like fat stalks poking up from the ground in green and red color. It grows in disturbed soil, along river banks, roadsides, and other moist areas. The stem is usually steamed as vegetable. It can be baked on dessert dishes, turned into jam or sauce. It is tangy and strong tartness in taste like rhubarb, but a lot better. Japanese knotweed is a rich source of vitamin A and C. It also supplies minerals like manganese, zinc, potassium, and phosphorus. The best part is that it also packed with a substance called Resveratrol that is effective in lowering LDL Cholesterol level, reduces the risk of heart attacks and can delay or slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
Chickweed – An ancient, wild edible weed that is hardy and thrives in many locations. This weed grows from 5 to 50cm tall. It is delicate and easy to grow plant and produces small white flowers. The leaves are smooth and a bit hairy with an oval shape and pointed tips. It is very much valued for its nutritional content. It stores vitamins like vitamin A, B1 and B2, and Vitamin C including essential minerals such as sodium, selenium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium and calcium. Chickweed is known to treat stomach ailments and constipation. It is also used to give relief from over-fatigue and several skin conditions such as burns, eczema and skin wound. Taken raw, they taste like corn silk and when cooked taste like spinach. They are best added raw to salads and sandwiches.
These are just some of the many edible weeds you can find around. The next time you see one, think of the benefits it can provide you and your family. Control them, but try not to exterminate them.
A word of caution, be sure to positively identify the weeds as edible before you start eating them.
Have fun foraging for some delicious weeds.