Where does the bad reputation of weed actually come from? Although the unwelcome plants appear in places that are a thorn in the side of the gardener, the leaves are not that useless. Many parts of the plant are edible and can be used in salads instead of vegetables. Still, weeds should only end up on the plate if the gardener is certain they are the species believed to be. To avoid confusion with poisonous plants, the following profiles with pictures will help you to identify edible weeds.

Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica)

  • Taste: spicy
  • Edible parts of the plant: leaves, seeds, shoots, roots
  • Use: tea, soup, pesto, sauce, spread

The stinging nettle not only has a bad reputation as a weed, but is also despised because of the stinging stalk. It is not a real stroke of luck for bees and butterflies. In addition to its high vitamin C content, there is also a lot of iron and calcium in the plant. Amazingly, stinging nettles even contain more protein than soybeans. From March to June, self-sufficient people have the opportunity to harvest the slightly hairy leaves from the garden. Not only people are happy about the healthy addition to salads or soups. In animals, Urtica dioica stimulates milk production.

Note: Since the stinging nettle serves as a habitat and food source for many insects, the gardener should only harvest as much as he needs for processing.

Garden cuckoo flower (Cardamine hirsuta)

  • Flavor: strong, slightly spicy

  • Edible parts of plants: leaves, flowers, seeds, roots
  • Use: on bread, salad, soups and sauces, herb quark or butter, pesto, fillings, vegetable dishes

The garden cuckoo flower is easily recognized by its beautiful flowers, which appear from March to June. These are not only a decorative ingredient, but also have a positive effect on digestion. But the other parts of the plant are also edible, as the plant is related to the cress. The taste of Cardamine hirsuta is more reminiscent of rocket.

ground elder (Aegopodium podagraria)

  • Taste: hot
  • Edible plant parts: leaves, flowers, seeds, shoots
  • Use: goes well with potatoes, salad, pesto, on pizza, smoothie, soup

Giersch grows a real vitamin C bomb in the garden, which, however, proves to be a very stubborn weed when the gardener wants to get rid of it. It’s a good thing that Aegopodium podagraria is edible, because regular harvesting encourages self-sufficiency to sprout new leaves. The picking of the edible plant parts in the home garden is possible from March to September. Ground elder is easily recognized by its white flowers and is considered a harbinger of spring. The weed comes from the same family as carrots, parsnips, cumin, dill and parsley and is in no way inferior to these edible plants in terms of taste.

Knuckle (Galinsoga parviflora)

  • Taste: mild
  • Edible parts of plants: all
  • Use: salta, pesto, smoothie, spinach substitute, dried as a spice

The buttonwort has found its way from America to the German garden. It is also known as French herb because it was introduced in Napoleon’s time. It can be used in numerous dishes from May to November. But birds, bees and rodents also appreciate the aroma. The seeds can also be pressed into oil.

Note: As the year progresses, the leaves and stems become more fibrous. Usually only the top shoot tips are edible at this time.

Dandelion (Taraxacum)

  • Taste: bitter, slightly nutty
  • Edible parts of plants: all
  • Use: salad, decoration, soup, syrup

Its effect is as joyful as the yellow head of the dandelion. The weed that blooms from March to October is considered mood-enhancing and even helps with weight loss. In addition, there are plenty of vitamins A and C in the plant. The earlier use as a coffee substitute is also interesting. Even today, this brew is known as Muckefuck.

Sauerampfer (Rumex acetosa)

  • Taste: sour
  • Edible parts of the plant: leaves, buds, shoots, seeds
  • Usage: soups, stews, raw vegetable salads, smoothies, herbal quark or herb butter, main ingredient of the famous Frankfurt sauce, tea

Nutrient-rich, slightly moist and humus-rich soil creates the best conditions for the sorrel, which spreads in the garden from May to August. The vitamin C-rich plant lives up to its name with its taste. Although almost all parts of the plant are edible, Rumex acetosa also contains small amounts of oxalic acid. Consumed in small amounts, however, there is no harmful effect. On the other hand, it becomes dangerous if the gardener confuses the weeds with the highly poisonous maple stick. A test helps to identify: maple leaves a burning sensation when on the lips when the gardener puts it to the mouth.

Pimpinelle (Sanguisorba minor)

  • Taste: light cucumber aroma, nutty
  • Edible parts of the plant: leaves, shoots
  • Use: traditionally in the Frankfurt sauce and Hamburg eel soup, vegetables, quark, herb butter

Another weed packed with lots of vitamin C. The burnet or burnet are best used when they are fresh and young. Older plants are edible, but develop a bitter aroma.

Note: Unfortunately, burnet leaves quickly lose their aroma. Therefore, the gardener should use them immediately after picking. For this reason, weeds are also not suitable for drying.

Schafgarbe (Achillea millefolium)

  • Taste: slightly bitter, aromatic
  • Edible parts of the plant: leaves, flowers
  • Use: dried as herbal salt, as an alternative to chamomile, decorative side dish, tea

Yarrow has been known as a medicinal herb since ancient times. In the past, doctors used their white flowers to treat intestinal diseases. They also say it has a wound-healing and calming effect. The essential oil from the plant is said to help with colds. Achillea millefolium appears in midsummer. The gardener should best harvest her when she is in full bloom. Their aroma is most pronounced in the midday heat. To use them afterwards, the gardener cuts off the stems about a hand’s breadth above the ground. Then he hangs them upside down in a sheltered place to dry.

Spitzwegerich (Plantago lanceolata)

  • Taste: slightly nutty, roasted mushroom-like
  • Edible plant parts: everything
  • Use: salad, spinach substitute

Ribwort plantain protrudes from the ground from October to April both in the garden and on the side of the road. Anyone who has breakfast like a king in the morning is making a good choice by adding their stems. The syllable “rich” means “king”. In addition, Plantago lanceolata is considered an indicator plant that indicates nutrient-rich soil. However, before consumption, it is advisable to wash the roots thoroughly.

Vogelmiere (Stellaria media)

  • Taste: mildly aromatic
  • Edible parts of the plant: leaves, flowers, seeds, buds, shoots
  • Usage: soup, salad, herbal quark or butter

Since the chickweed spreads very quickly in the garden, it is a thorn in the side of many gardeners. But the plant also has good properties. Hardly anyone is aware that, in addition to a considerable protein content, it also has more nutrients than lettuce. Chickens have long appreciated this advantage and are crazy about the weeds. Since chickweed is a popular bird food, botanists also gave it its German name. Visually, Stellaria media makes an impression both on the plate and in the garden. In frost-free winters, the 40 cm tall plant with the white flowers is evergreen.

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