Today, while I was throwing some potatoes in the ground, I noticed a fairly prolific herb growing rampant all across the back portion of my yard. After some consultation with some friends, we came to the conclusion that the plant was “dead-nettle.” Unlike stinging nettle, though furry, this dead-nettle does not sting or cause a rash, and it has multiple uses. Additionally, this plant is considered invasive in many areas. Thus, the idea for this post was sparked. There are MANY plants that folks consider weeds or invasive that can be foraged and have multiple, beneficial uses. Foraging your back yard for various plants can be beneficial to yourself and your animals (if you keep any). I’ve compiled a list below of some very common backyard weeds that have multiple uses; and all of those listed below can be used to supplement your animal’s normal diet (ie. rabbits, chickens, goats, etc.).
Dead-nettle –> listed as a “superfood;” one of the first flowering plants in spring (see my post on bee gardens) which is a good food source for pollinators; can be used to make pesto, as an addition to soups/salads; part of the mint family; flowering tops may have a sweet flavor; high in vitamin C, iron & fiber
Dandelions –> another of the first flowering plants in spring, which are vital to bees and pollinators; flowers can be fried (which I have tried and they were delicious), turned into wine, or made into jelly, and make fine massage oils and heal chapped skin; leaves can be added to salads, soups, or smoothies; the root can be used as a coffee substitute and medicinally (claims regarding detoxifying the liver, helping indigestion, and treatment of gout) [ photo of my fried dandelion blossoms along side my homemade foccacia bread <3 ]
Plantain –> another prolific perennial weed; all parts can be used as additions to salads or soups, and can be eaten cooked or raw; this plant is high in calcium, and vitamins C,K,A; considered a “heal-all,” and has been used to treat everything from dog bites to ulcers to epilepsy
White Clover –> used to purify and cleanse the blood; tea can be used as an eye wash; tincture used for gout ointment; fights fevers and colds; can be made into gelatins, jellies, and puddings
Chickweed –> leaves can be eaten raw in salads/added to sandwiches; if cooked, all parts of the plant can be used; presence of chickweed is an insect deterrent for other plants; fresh leaves can be applied directly to bug bites and sunburn; mixed into a bath with vinegar it can treat itchy skin; tea relieves dry cough
Creeping Charlie (Ground Ivy) –> historically used as flavoring, clarifier & beer preservative; tea relieves congestion, flu symptoms, and aids digestion; external ointments can be used to help arthritis, skin inflammations & sores
Kudzu –> aka the plant that ate the south; was originally brought here to help control erosion; INCREDIBLY INVASIVE; very high in protein, can be eaten raw or sauteed in salads (have tried, very good); leaves, tips, roots, flowers are edible but vines are not (for humans, rabbits however love the vines); can be deep fried