Anyone who has ever been involved in growing plants will most likely have been told from a young age that they need to pull out all the plants that are classified as “weeds.” The problem is that when we look at plants from less of a reduction perspective and rather one that instead uses a holistic approach instead, we see that almost all plants have positive qualities. This includes even the most “noxious” or aggressive of weeds, many of which have been demonised over the years for a number of reasons.
Sometimes it can be worth it to let these weeds grow or even plant them manually. Not only are many of these plants extremely hardy and easy to grow, but a lot of the time they’re even edible, and have a plethora of incredible medical uses.
Those people that like to keep a neat lawn will probably cringe at the thought of plantain poking up, but this plant has long been grown for its leaves, which have a number of uses.
For instance, the Native Americans would use plantain as a poultice, applying it directly to insect bites, rashes, and other skin ailments. Recent research has discovered that plantain does, in fact, help ease skin issues like bites, containing powerful healing compounds.
Both Broadleaf Plantain and Narrowleaf Plantain are common, grow in most environments, and don’t need a lot of water or fertilizer to flourish once established.
Most people remember taking the clocks of transformed dandelion flower heads and blowing the seeds into the wind. This common weed has become naturalised across much of the world, and there are actually a few species that are so closely related to the common dandelion that they share many of the same traits. The entire plant can be eaten, but the leaves tend to be the more popular choice.
Although bitter, they make an excellent addition to salads, and are absolutely packed with trace minerals that the plant brings up from deep underground with its large taproot which is why the dandelion is also a dynamic bio accumulator.
Although it consists of two main species, Digitaria spp, more commonly known as crabgrass, is a hated plant that typically invades just about any garden in the northern hemisphere, and people spend a lot of time, money and effort trying to eliminate it. But in other parts of the world, crab grass is known instead as fonio, where it’s widely consumed as a staple food.
When left to mature, crab grass produces a very edible and healthy grain not dissimilar from millet. It’s used in much the same way as people use rice in Eastern and Western countries and is naturally high in dietary fibre. Crab grass will grow itself regardless of the location, so it might be worth spending the money on video games, a new book, Cricket World Cup betting, or a night out at the restaurant rather than toxic herbicides.