Foraging for Edible Weeds in Spring: Chickweed, Black Locust, Plantain and More


| 3/11/2016 10:19:00 AM


Tags: edible weeds, food foraging, wild harvesting, plantain, chickweed, dandelion, Crystal Stevens, Illinois,

Foraging for wild edibles is among one of my very favorite outdoor activities.

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While you anticipate the farm fresh bounty, delve into the beautiful art of wild harvesting! It is fun to search for wild edibles in areas that are not sprayed with pesticides. (Another reason not to use chemical pesticides or herbicides.) Take a look around your own backyard. Get creative and find recipes online or create your own. There are plenty of books at our local library on wild edibles.

My dear friend and mentor, Herbalist Colleen Smith, once described medicinal weeds as “plants growing in our backyards often times so close to our back door that they seem as though they are just begging to get inside and alleviate what ails us.” Herbalists across the globe are all aware of the powerful medicinal qualities of what most people refer to as “weeds.”

So many people go to great lengths to achieve perfectly manicured lawns. I do not. My motto is that if it’s growing, it has a purpose. Invasive or not, every plant has a purpose, whether it be for pollination, erosion prevention, food for animals, insects, and people, or just for the sake of photosynthesis.  In today’s fast-paced world, it is hard not to lose our connection with nature and the understanding that we have an innate symbiotic relationship with plants and animals. We are inevitably responsible for the future of our planet.

We are so busy with the fast-paced reality and rituals of everyday life that we hardly notice the beauty beneath our feet and even worse, we see what could ultimately heal us as something that is a nuisance. Ralph Waldo Emerson said that, “A weed is just a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered”.


mtwoman
3/18/2016 10:14:28 AM

I have been a forager and herbalist for 40+ years. It's a great thing to do and know, and I encourage folks to gain knowledge and experience in it. I am glad you mention being careful with identification of wild plants, but I wonder how many folks will read to the bottom of the article and catch that. Perhaps mentioning the toxicity of each plant with the photo and text describing it would be better. Black Locust is toxic in all forms except the flowers. Some folks could assume that because the flowers are edible, so may be the seeds, etc. With the rise in interest in foraging, I think it's important for us seasoned foragers and herbalists to take extra care to inform the people who are just learning of all the considerations. Another consideration is herbal interaction with medicines; one should always research what that may be before ingesting any foraged plant.


mtwoman
3/18/2016 10:13:49 AM

I have been a forager and herbalist for 40+ years. It's a great thing to do and know, and I encourage folks to gain knowledge and experience in it. I am glad you mention being careful with identification of wild plants, but I wonder how many folks will read to the bottom of the article and catch that. Perhaps mentioning the toxicity of each plant with the photo and text describing it would be better. Black Locust is toxic in all forms except the flowers. Some folks could assume that because the flowers are edible, so may be the seeds, etc. With the rise in interest in foraging, I think it's important for us seasoned foragers and herbalists to take extra care to inform the people who are just learning of all the considerations. Another consideration is herbal interaction with medicines; one should always research what that may be before ingesting any foraged plant.




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