Friday, August 23, 2013

Edible Weed Walk

Yesterday I had the opportunity to go on a guided tour of my neighborhood's edible landscape. It was so fascinating and truly opened my eyes to a new way of thinking. Plants that I see every day and had previously written off as weeds or annoyances, I now realize are not only a vital part of our ecosystem but also powerhouses for human health and nutrition. Our tour guide, Kat from The Clintonville Community Market and The Simple Siren, has a wealth of knowledge on the subject and did a wonderful job of describing the traditional uses of these plants, as well as the science behind their medicinal & nutritive properties. She's basically been studying herbalism since birth because she was raised in a family that values plants as both food and medicine – much how I would like to raise Sadie.

Disclaimer: I am NOT recommending you go out and eat any of these plants without doing your own research. Many plants look similar and could possibly be misidentified. There are also plants that have parts that are safe to eat along with parts that have toxicity. I am simply passing along information that was given to me and sharing pictures that I took on the tour.  I am also using my memory and chicken scratch notes to write this post, so if any of the information is inaccurate please leave me a comment to let me know.

  1. Shiso - The purple color is a good indicator that it is high in antioxidants. This is what gives the color to ume plum vinegar.
  2. Red Clover – Also high in antioxidants and riboflavin. The flower portion is tastier than the leaves. This has been shown to be a cancer fighter, specifically breast cancer!
  3. Oxolis (Wood Sorrel) – Tart and fresh tasting. Great in salads. You can eat the roots as well as the leaves.
Also in the jar (but not numbered because difficult to see): Day flowers, Chicory, Purslane, Lambquarters, Chickweed

 Linden Tree - Linden is great for fevers/immune problems.  The berries have a slight toxicity but the seed within the berry does not.  The seed is packed with B vitamins!  Toss the leaves into a salad.  The flowers make a great tea.

Marshmallow plant

 The energy rich seed inside the pod on the marshmallow plant is known as "little breads" and is packed with protein.

 Burdock - This is what Burdock looks like in it's first year of growth.  This is when it's leaves are good to eat.  After the top of the plant dies back the root can be used.  It is a strong blood cleanser.

 Plaintain Leaf - A very nutritious blood cleanser as well.  The root can be eaten and is similar to ginger.  Not related to the banana-like plantain!

 Violet Leaf

 Oakleaf Hydrangea


 Oak Leaf - Great in brine pickles to keep them crunchy!

 Second year Burdock - see how the stem has turned woody (= not tasty)

 Dock - a super nutritious bitter

 Pokeweed - Berries can be poisonous!  Do not grow if you have children.  Only eat pokeweed when it has just sprouted (before the stems turn purple.)

 Lambsquarter - this is the size it should be when harvested.  Great raw, blanched or steamed.

 Black Walnut - Leaves are great in medicinal tea

Hibiscus syriacus (Rose of Sharon) - Vitamin rich leaves, great for regulating blood pressure

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