life curation · Uncategorized

Wonderful Weeds

Since becoming a homeowner last year, I’ve spent a lot of time getting to know my home and yard. I enjoy the flowers that the previous owner planted, and I find so much pleasure in sitting in my morning room and looking at the woods beyond my backyard, where I can catch glimpses of rabbits, various beautiful birds, and occasionally deer.

Prior to moving here, I assumed that weeds were the bane of most homeowners. After all, weeds were usually unsightly, absorbed nutrients that could have been utilized by prettier plants, and attracted pests. However, my herbalist studies have given me a different perspective on weeds, and I’ve gotten to a point that I love to explore my yard and see if the weeds can be used for medicinal or culinary purposes.

I’m delighted to share that I’ve discovered several weeds that I can use in my herbalist practice! I also have some photos of the weeds that I’m excited to use in the upcoming months.

This weed is mullein. Isn’t it stunning? It can be used to create teas and tinctures that remove mucus from the lungs and gastrointestinal tract. I actually just love the look of it. It is wind-pollinated, so here’s hoping that it’ll bloom and those seeds will create some more plants nearby.

A young mullein plant

This is dog fennel, a weed that closely resembles dill. This weed should only be used externally (it can treat sunburn and can also be used as a mosquito repellent) because it has compounds that are toxic to the liver. Some people hate the smell, while others find it earthy (like pine). I actually enjoy the fragrance. I’m still researching the best way to extract the oils for a liquid repellent, but so far, I haven’t seen anything. I may just experiment a bit and see if I can come up with a good repellent recipe using dog fennel.

A cluster of dog fennel

This very common plant is pokeweed (poke salad/poke sallet). It can be prepared as a cooked green, and, if done well, it’s delicious. My mother gave me a great recipe, and cautioned me that the weed should not be consumed once it starts bearing seeds (when the little berries appear). We had a chance to pick the pokeweed behind my home, and we filled a large garbage bag with the leaves, and there are still so many more plants left. However, we’re done gathering pokeweed for this season: we have plenty!

Pokeweed growing next to my back porch

Finally, you may see a cute little berry looks like a strawberry, but it’s smaller, a bit rounder, and the seeds look a little strange. That is actually a mock strawberry. It’s nontoxic, but it doesn’t have nearly the same level of flavor or sweetness as real strawberries. However, it’s lovely ground cover and is a pretty harmless plant overall, other than the fact that it can take over a yard quickly. I learned that the berries can be eaten (some people enjoy the flavor), and the leaves can be dried and turned into a tea. So I collected a TON of the leaves and started drying them. I’m excited to let you know how the tea turns out.

Closeup of the mock strawberry leaves

So when you start seeing your grass get a little taller than you’d like, perhaps you can take some time to explore and figure out if any of the “weeds” could be useful to you! You may be pleased with what you find.

That’s all for this Tuesday. Have a great day everyone!

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