It is said that “weeds are in the eye of the beholder.”
In most of our experience, weeds have a bad rep for wreaking havoc upon freshly landscaped spaces. Thus, it is no wonder they go unnoticed for their potential uses beyond simply being a nuisance.
While I can’t speak for all weedy wildflower varieties, a few of our most well known “weed” species are actually very useful in maintaining health + vitality.
Head outside and behold the Mother Earth medicine sprinkled across your yard with these three easy-to-identify edible wildflowers.
Botanical name: Viola odorata
Who knew those bright purple flowers speckling the lawn are more than just a pretty sight!
High in Vitamin A and C and packed with antioxidants, violet flowers are said to help cleanse the blood, support healthy heart function, treat respiratory issues and freshen breath.
In his famed work "The Complete Herbal," 17th century English botanist Nicholas Culpepper claimed that “violets are cold and moist while they are fresh and green, and are used to cool any heat or dis-temperature of the body.” These properties make them useful as a gentle anti-inflammatory.
Though modern science has some catching up to do on proving the many benefits of this radiant purple flower, we do know that it is edible and effective in beautifying anything it adorns.
Add fresh violet flowers to your salad, on top of a stir fry or impress your friends and family with some violet-laced iced cubes at your next party.
Botanical name: Taraxacum officinale
Members of the daisy family, dandelions are best known for their sunshine yellow hue and the way they unforgivingly take over any space they are given.
Though long considered a pesky weed, this seemingly omnipresent plant is packed with herbal medicine. And the best part, you can eat every bit of it.
Dandelion leaves are considered a bitter green and taste similar to arugula. Brimming with Vitamin C, calcium and iron, both folk and modern medicine claim that consuming them helps purify the blood and settle digestion. Juice them, eat them raw in a salad or sauté them with some butter and garlic for dinner.
The flowers themselves are high in Vitamin A and beta carotene. Truthfully, dandelion buds are tastier than the fully blossomed flowers. Pick them when they are close to the ground, tightly bunched in the center, and about the size of a small gum ball. Voila, your salad just got so much more awesome!
Dandelion roots can be dried and used as a digestive balancing tea. Simply pull the plant from the root, rinse roots thoroughly and chop into small pieces. For best flavor, dry chopped roots in the oven at 200 degrees for 30-45 minutes. Then amp the temperature to 350 and let them roast again for approximately 30 to 45 minutes, until they turn a dark brown color, similar to coffee. Let cool, steep in hot water and enjoy!
Botanical name: Trifolium repens
Native to the Northern Hemisphere, white clovers are often overlooked as an edible flower.
Used traditionally by the Cherokee, Iroquois and Mohegan Indian tribes for their medicinal properties, white clovers are best known for their effectiveness in reducing respiratory spasms brought by whooping cough.
Rich in Vitamin A, magnesium, potassium and a relatively high protein content, it is also believed that this unassuming plant helps cleanse the blood, promote healthy lymph flow and boost immunity.
Wild clover blossoms are best eaten fresh or steeped in hot water for tea.
Note: DO NOT consume flowers that may have been sprayed with pesticides or fertilizers!