Edible Weeds & Herbs
Look at what weeds and plants grow on your property and engage in how to use them.
Nutritional food source
Fresh plant Tincture making
External use in creams and insect repellents
Weeds grow when we need them most and often pop up to assist our physical and emotional health. These little gems will pop up where you most commonly tread each day and can be seen growing at your front door
Weeds tend to the land to provide an ecosystem benefitting all animals and plants in the area, which is supportive by an interconnected web of natural intelligence that we are yet to fully understand. Growing to provide ground cover and adequate nutrients before larger plants can establish. Weeds have other uses such as providing long tap roots to bring moisture to other plants and metabolise essential nutrients like calcium, magnesium iron and potassium for the uptake of other plants. Their root systems are giant networks integrated with each plant providing homes for symbiotic microbes and other organisms that produce healthy bacteria to metabolise nutrients for the plants and soil. Other plants like Gotu kola can be seen growing around areas where it may be very dry or wet and act as an infiltration system to cleanse nutrient before water flows into the dam from onsite sewerage systems.
If you would like more information on over 50 weeds & herbs, buy a copy of my identifying manual called Walk the Talk with Herbs & Wild Weeds. Use my contact page for more information.
The leaves are rough on the top with soft hairy under side and fragrant. The flowers are clustered as in a bouquet in colours of white, yellow, pink, orange or red. The red flowering specie is considered toxic to humans and animals. Do not Take Lantana internally it is poisonous.
Taste & Energy: pungent
Actions: antimalarial, anti-inflammatory and relaxant
Nutrients: protein, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, zinc iron, copper, sulphur, magnesium. Anti- nutrients detected that include phylates, tannins and oxalates
Part used: Seed and leaf (External use only)
The pounded leaves are applied to cuts, ulcers and swellings in South East Asia.(A.B Cribb & J.M Cribb)
Lantana Insect and tick Repellent
I make an insect repellent made with the leaf infused in alcohol tincture, let steep for 6 weeks and then strained. Add ¼ of the tincture to a 100ml bottle half filled with water and vodka. Then add 10 drops each of the essential oils of lavender and tea tree oil. Spray on the skin when needed
Dandelion (Leotodon TaraxCum & Taraxacum Officinale Compositae)
Not to be confused with cats ear, the leaf is thin, arrow like, pointed and hairless growing to 30cm long.
This is the herb for moving stuck stuff, providing courage to fight ahead without judgement. A wonderful herb for stimulating the digestion and is a good laxative.
Taste & Energy: bitter, root is very cooling & drying, leaf is more nurturing.
Actions: stomachic and liver tonic, detoxifying, diuretic, anti-inflammatory and diabetes. Great if you are a little constipated.
Nutrients: calcium salts, magnesium, potash, phosphorus, niacin, betacarotene, vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, D and enzymes
Parts used: leaf, root and juice
Chickweed (Stella Media)
Luscious and prolific low growing green plant with tiny white star like flowers has oval shape leaves that are opposite to lower ones on the stalk.
Taste: astringent, bitter and cooling
Actions: cleansing, moistening, emollient, strengthening, anti-inflammatory and refrigerant. Indicated in chronic rheumatism and psoriasis and gouty joints
Nutrients: protein, vitamin A, B, C, A and rich in minerals iron and copper
Parts used: the leaf may be eaten in salads and the juice made into a salve.
Sow Thistle (Sonchus Oleraceus)
The plant grows to 1 meter and beyond, the leaves are poignant, shiny, hairy, and spikey with a toothed like dandelion leaf. The leaves curl around the stem in a rosette formation and grow up to 30cm long, forming yellow flowers in the center. Other species of sow thistle plants are smaller in stature and the leaves are not spikey or shiny. In New Zealand sow thistle is known as a Maori vegetable called Pooha.
Taste & Energy: bitter & pungent
Actions: Liver tonic, sedative and toning, febrifuge & anti inflammatory
Nutrients: carbohydrate, protein, ash, fibre, minerals; calcium, phosphorus, iron and vitamins; A, thiamine B1, B2, Niacin and C
Parts used: leaves. The milky sap is useful in removing sunspots (Grieve)
The leaf can be boiled like spinach or young leaf fresh in salads is wholesome and strengthening. Cooked with garlic, olive oil and herbs or had in a freshly squeezed juice with apple, celery & ginger
Swine Cress (Cornonpus Didymsu)
Swine cress is a sprawling ground cover with hairy stems; the leaves are 1-4cm long and have little seed pods set together in pairs.
Taste & Energy: pungent & aromatic
Part used: leaves and roots are used for medicine
The young leaf taste like aniseed can be added to salads.
Nodding Top (Crassocephalum Crepidioides)
Clusters of pinkish/ orange flowers that droop, the heads have white fluffy thistle down and ovate shape leaf coarsely toothed of the outer edges. Eaten raw taste like carrots. The young leaf can be cooked adding it to your daily cuisine.
Taste & Energy: sour, acrid, bitter carrots, cooling
Actions: anti –inflammatory, bitter and astringent properties for wound healing.
Nutrients: Protein (tyrosine), calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron & vitamin C
Part used: leaves and root
Wood Sorrel (Oxalis)
The leaves are divided into 3 or more heart shaped notched leaflets at the top of the stem. Most species have three leaflets and may look similar to clover but clovers do not have heart shape leaves. The flowers have 5 petals and usually yellow but the ones at my place are a pinky violet.
Taste & Energy: sour
Actions: astringent, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial and antifungal
Nutrients: very high in Vitamin C & flavonoids
Part used: Leaf, added to soups, salads to arouse appetite and promotes digestion. Pick a handful of freshly leaf chop finely and steeped in water to cleanse the blood. Make a stronger infusion with more leaf to wash itchy skin rashes. Used in moderation because the oxalic acid with irritate the kidneys.
Ground cover with succulent fleshy flat oval leaves alternating from a reddish stem with small yellow flowers in the center of the leaf cluster.
Taste & Energy: sour, salty, sweet, moist & cold
Actions: emollient, mucilaginous, nutritive, relaxant, anti-inflammatory in gout and swollen joint, purgative and cardiac tonic. Stimulates the appetite and quenches the thirst and cool the forehead when overheated due to excessive heat, headaches and fever(Grieves)
Nutrients: alpha linolenic acid (ALA) omega 3 essential fatty acid, vitamins; A, C & E and minerals; iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium
Part used: leaf. Juice of the leaf is taken to relieve dry coughs and shortness of breath (Grieves). Young shoots and leaves may be eaten in salads or boiled as a green in soups.
Sheep Sorrell (Rumax Acetosella)
An abundant lush green plant that likes to sprawl and clump displaying 10cm length with 1cm wide leaves. Known to thrive in good soils and adequate rainfall
Taste & Energy: cooling & sour
Actions: digestive, constipation, anti-inflammatory, excessive menstruation and astringent
Nutrients: leaves are rich in vitamin C, potassium, oxalic acid and Tartaric Acid
Part used: leaf. A tea made with the leaf taken with honey is good for ulcers of the mouth and throat. Used in moderation because the oxalic acid with irritate the kidneys.
Gota Kola (Centella Asiatice syn. Hydrocotyle Asiatica)
Gotu Kola is a low lying ground creeper; leaves are kidney shape with a v-shape slot, where the leaf joints the longish green stem to the base.
Taste & Energy: sweet, bitter astringent, cooling
Actions: intellect promoting, cognitive function and mood, ageing, sedative, cardio protective, antiulcer, antitumor, antifungal, immunostimulant, wound healing, purifies the blood, arthritis & joint inflammation.
Nutrients: vitamins A, B, C, D, minerals – calcium, chromium, cobalt, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, sodium, potassium selenium, silica and zinc.
Parts used: leaf
Mallow is a very common weed of paddocks and dry areas. It has a five sided rhomboid shaped leaf with miniature pale hibiscus flowers and a very long tap root.
Actions: Demulcent for bladder, irritation, sore throat and dry cough as a gargle and eye inflammation and for rheumatism and diarrhoea.
Externally applied as a poultice or wash to snakebites, insect bites and wasp stings after you chew up the leaf into a pulp and place on the bite (see useful Native Plants of Australia by J.H Maiden).
Part used: Leaf
Yarrow (Archillea Millefolium)
Ground covered Green feathered fern soft leaves up to 20cm long branches attached to a central stem, 5mm diameter white or pink daisy flowers clustered in umbels. White flower is best. Cut off at ground level just as the flowers begin to open.
Yarrow is a wounded warrior remedy, tendency for accidents and those delicate souls who are sensitive to their environment.
Taste & Energy: bitter, cooling and neural
Actions: Astringent, diaphoretic, menstrual regulator, mucus membrane tonic, bitter tonic, insomnia, anti-inflammatory, stops bleeding and circulatory tonic.
Nutrients: vitamins A, C, E and K, minerals; manganese, copper, potassium, iron iodine, including flavonoids, of apigenin, luteolin, quercetin and rutin.
Part used: flowers and herb
Billy Goat Weed (Agoratumconyzoides)
The composite flowers are pale blue to lilac arranged in a dense cluster at the tip. The whole plant is covered in fine white hairs making it soft and furry. Bees love the flowers and the flower heads can be rubbed on externally when stung
Taste & energy: cooling
Actions: antimicrobial, antibacterial, analgesic and anti-inflammatory
Nutrients: vitamin C, B vitamins, Vitamin E, zinc and iron
Part used: leaf, flower tops and whole plant
Board Leaf Plantain (Pantago Major)
Broad leaf plantain stands up to one metre tall; it has wide rosette leaves with prominent longitudinal veins 4-10cm long. The plant sends up fine leafless stems with a terminal green spike–followed by stems of brown seed.
Taste & Energy: astringent, salty, bitter, cold, dry and moistening
Actions: Demulcent & expectorant, antiseptic & astringent, the constituent allantoin in the leaves knits cells back together to reduces inflammation in ulcers and particularly in the bladder, urinary area, buttocks including kidney infections of the body and curves bleeding. In case of infected wounds and insect bites apply a poultice regularly and drink an infusion made from the leaf to draw out the toxin. For bladder and kidney problems take 1 tablespoon of plantain juice with lemon juice in one cup of water 3 x a day.
Nutrients: vitamins C and K, calcium, potassium, sulphur and high trace minerals
Part used: herb and seed
Ribwort - Small Plantain (Plantago Lanceolata)
These leaves are hairy 1-7cm long narrow 1-3cm wide with 5 prominent veins and the flower heads have fluffy yellow pollen sacs.
Gather leaves before the plant has set seed.
Taste & Energy: sour, sweet & moist
Actions: demulcent, astringent and expectorant ,Allantoin soothes inflammation in respiratory colds and flus and seasonal hay fever. Ribwort will remove the toughest of phlegm lung conditions and deep seated chemical toxins.
Nutrients: tannin, potassium, manganese, phosphorus, silica and vitamin C.
Part used: herb and seed
Cats Ear (Hypochoeris Radicata)
The plant looks like dandelion, except the leaves are darker, thicker and narrower with a fine hair over both sides. Dandelion will produce one flower on top of a yellow stalk while cat’s ear producers many. When you see Cats Ear growing encourage its growth, do not remove as it provides many valuable nutrients for the soil and its tap root penetrates deep into the earth to metabolise nutrients for the soil.
Taste & Energy: Bitter
Actions: antioxidant, antibacterial and antifungal
Nutrients: vitamin A, beta-carotene, protein, calcium, phosphorus and copper.
Parts used: leaf and root
Farmer's Friends (Bidens Pilosa)
Related species Biden Tripartita, Burr Marigold, Cobbler’s pegs stands to 100cm tall in groups, they have small daisy flowers with yellow centres and white coloured petals. Recognized by its cluster of narrow black seeds, 1cm long and fine barbed projections that love to stick to everything.
Taste & Energy: pungent, bitter & astringent
Actions: antibacterial, antimicrobial, blood purifier, bitter, astringent, styptic, mucous membrane tonic & catarrh, antidiabetic and anti-allergic. The leaf chewed reduces plaque leaving your teeth feeling clean and the whole plant including the flower head; root and stem are chewed for toothache.
Nutrients: protein, vitamin C, chlorophyll, calcium, Iron, potassium and magnesium
Parts used: the whole plant, leaf and stalk.
Mouth wash recipe
Make a Tincture of 1 cup of fresh plant farmers friends, ½ c dried peppermint leaf with 2 tablespoons powder of myrrh and some clove seed in alcohol and let steep for 6 weeks and strain. Excellent for inflammation of the mouth, gums, throat and toothache. You only need 5 to 10 drops in water, gargle and pit it out.
Comfery (Symphytum Officinale)
Comfrey leafs are huge leathery coated with a fine hair both sides and grow to about 30cm long and 20cm wide. The leaves have lizard crocodile look alike markings furrowed on their surface tops. It is known as the bone healer because it knits bones together due to its actions you see below.
Taste & Energy: bitter, sweet & cooling
Actions: external healing only, mucilage, anti-inflammatory and astringent
Nutrients: Rich in vitamin A, C, B12, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, sulphur, copper, zinc, iron, 18 amino acids and allantoin
Parts used: leaf and root
Comfrey hasan amazing glue like consistency when it is infused with oil or in alcohol because of the allantoin giving collagen its elastic properties for sore ligaments, joints and knits bone.. Do not place comfrey on an open skin wound because the skin will grow over the wound. The infection will penetrate deeper into the body affecting other parts like organs and the blood stream.
Silvery green deeply lobed umbrella shape leaves 30-80mm in diameter attached to long trailing stalks with birth yellow or orange trumpet flowers. Very high levels of vitamin C
Taste & Energy: sour
Actions: anti-microbial, natural antibiotic and will break up mucus respiratory conditions
Nutrients: vitamin C
Part used: herb and seed, fresh leaves are used in salads
Yellow Dock (Radix Rumex Crispus), Swamp Dock (Rumex brownie) & Common Dock (Rumex Obstusifolius)
The most common of the Rumex family is yellow dock and generally used in herbal medicine.
The leaves are smooth, lanceolate shooting off from a basal rosette with curled or waved edges. On the stalk the flowers and brown seeds are produced in clusters around the stem.
Native to Australia, Rumex Brownie the taproot is thinner and branching more than Rumex Crispus which has a forking taproot. Grows well in moist iron rich soils.
Taste & Energy: cooling
Actions: astringent, laxative, mild cholagogue, blood purifier, antioxidant & tonic. Nutrients: vitamin A, C, beta-carotene, calcium, iron, zinc, manganese and selenium.
Part used: root, the root is yellow inside in both species, its best to wait to the second year to harvest. Both root and leaves are naturally high in iron and used for congestion in the liver and impure blood symptoms.
Nettle - Australia Nettle Native (Urtica Incisa) & Common Tall Urticadioica
Grows in Queensland’s throughout the winter and into the summer months, tend to be more prolific in cooler climates. The leaves are serrated and stems are covered in fine hairs, they sting, nettles grow up to 100cm high. A crushed dock leaf or plantain leaf applied to the area relieves the sting.
Taste & Energy: slightly bitter and warming
Actions: nurturing, anti-inflammatory, allergic rhinitis, diuretic, prostrate Hyperplasia protein digestion. Boiled leaves applied externally to the wound stops bleeding immediately and a poultice of leaf will relieve pain. Chopped leaf boiled in water or vinegar is a good scalp wash for eczema and dandruff - one to two cups daily.
Nettles are one of the best herbs to help with protein metabolism, anti-inflammatory in skin disorders and environmental allergies with its high levels of silica. According to Mathew Wood It is a wonderful restorative plant with chickweed to support the thyroid gland and kidneys
Nutrients: vitamins, B1, B2, B9 A, C, D, E, K, silica, Protein, chlorophyll, potassium, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium and iron
Part used: leaf, root and seed
References used: Weeds supplement to Herbal Medicine (HSA)
A course studied with Heidi Merika Wild crafting & Medicine Making (wild plants as food and Medicine) ran on the Sunshine Qld)