There are some edible leafy greens which grow unattended in the wild, in a variety of climate zones. These plants not only serve well in emergency situations but they can provide you with nutrition every day too. You can forage for these plants in your own backyard or in nature, and the bonus is, they’re absolutely free! Wild weeds and flowers can be incorporated into your salads and meals, and you’d be surprised at the flavor they add to food. Here are some wild leafy greens and flowers you can eat, but do buy a guide too, which can help you to familiarise yourself with these plants when you go out to pick them:
Chickweed is a slightly succulent plant, which is oval in shape with a pointed tip. It has tiny white flowers with 5 petals. This weed has therapeutic effects and purifies the lymphatic system and blood. You can make chickweed tea or eat it raw, steam it or make juice from it.
Edible dandelion grows closer to the earth, as opposed to the upright and tall dandelion. This ‘weed’ has long been consumed by people, due to its detoxification and diuretic properties. It improves fat metabolism, increases bile flow and is great for indigestion too. The pretty yellow flowers can be eaten too, which contain lecithin.
Yellow or curly dock are the most common types found growing wild. Dock leaves can grow quite big and have high Vitamin A and C content, as well as being a good source of potassium and iron. Eat them young, as the oxalic acid content increases as the leaves maturity.
Chicory is found in areas which have gravel or clay. It is drought resistant and the roots of chicory have been used as a cleansing and delicious tea. Garnish salads or steam chicory leaves to improve your digestion.
The wild garlic has the taste of both onion and garlic and it is tasty and pungent at the same time. The bulbs are quite small, however, you have to use only a few of them at a time. They taste yummy as a salted garnish.
Lamb’s quarter varies from 1-6ft and is also called ‘wild spinach’. You can recognize these leaves by the whitish undersides of the leaves. It has been a common food source in Europe for thousands of years. Cook the seeds as you would cook quinoa, and the stems, leaves, and shoots can all be eaten. But eat in moderation, as it contains oxalic acid.
Wild fennel grows in the countryside and is a perennial herb, and keeps growing from the same roots many times. You can eat the bulbs, seeds and leaves raw in salads or cooked with vegetables, meat etc and enjoy the aroma as well as the taste.
Make homemade champagne and soda from elderflowers. Elderflower tea can also be made after they are dried.
Soft, large leaves with a ruffled, rounded look characterize the mallow plant. The roots are used to treat sore throats, cough, and congestion.
Daisies look pretty but they do tend to grow all over the yard. You can eat the flowers and petals raw, though you might find it somewhat bitter.
Loaded with vitamin C, it was consumed in great quantities by miners, when food was scarce. It protected miners from the dreaded ‘scurvy’. It has high omega 3 content and is usually found next to chickweed.
As the name suggests, lungwort is a remedy for lung problems. Leaves are cooked the same way as spinach and the flowers are as flavorful as they are pretty.
You must have seen tiny wild violets – did you know that you can eat both the leaves and flowers of the wild violet are edible? They have a nutty, spicy taste and can purify the blood too. This tiny flowering plant stimulates the lymphatic system and can clear any impurities in the skin.
Purslane, watercress, mustard are some other edible weeds which are full of nutrition and taste. Wildflowers and weeds not only add an interesting element to your food, but they also have many medicinal properties which are beneficial for health.