One of the common annoyances of growing a garden every year, is the dreaded weed pulling !! Am I right? Of all the years of growing my own vegetable gardens at home, I spent literally HOURS pulling out those pesky weeds from my garden, I was under the impression that that these weeds are going to choke out my prized veggies and they had to go ! That was until I started to learn more about what those pesky little weeds were, and how many wonderful benefits they can actually bring to your garden. There are the pollinators, that truly love those colorful flowers that most weeds produce. Then there are those tiny shaded ecosystems around the soil, and the many medicinal benefits of many plants. There are a few that are deliciously edible and make great additions to salads and other dishes. This year, 4 months after I decided to start to build this small home business, I started from seed a wild garden. My plants of choice were red clover, tansy, mullein, ox-eye daisy, and lavender and a few other herbs and spices. Ill tell you one thing, what I planted vs what actually popped sure was a surprise ! I had a few of these little weeds growing before, but this year, its almost like Mother Nature knew what I was doing, and decided to bring the wild to my backyard!!
Today I am going to share with you all of the wonderful plants that have popped up in my backyard, along with some benefits, and their names. I will also share a few beautiful, yet poisonous/ non edible plants that I also have growing, along with a few that I am unsure of. Remember that this list of medicinal benefits are not the only ones,I have listed a quick run down of some of the most common ones, please do your own research to learn everything you can about a plant before deciding to harvest and consume it!
Wild mustards have a few different common species that I am aware of, This one being field mustard. This plant belongs to the Brassicaceae family which also includes broccoli, canola, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, and turnip. Mustard can be eaten raw, or dried. I like to use the tender young shoots to add a zesty flavor to salads, and you can use the more mature plants for soups and stews. The seeds of the cultivated version are what is commonly used to create the amazing condiment we know as "yellow mustard". Mustards contain vitamins A, B and C and many useful trace minerals. The health benefits of mustard may include digestive issues, tonic for fevers, croup, asthma, and headaches. Also may work as a laxative, expels worms and reduced inflammation!
Found literally all over and a very tasty addition to salads, or dried as a herbal tea. I like to dry the flowers and use in many different types of wild herbal teas that my children like the taste of. Usually mixed with pineapple weed, sweet vetch and clovers, to help calm them down in the evenings before bed. Oxeye Daisy has some wide known uses such as treatment for whooping cough, bronchitis and excitability. Milk diuretic, and astringent. Fever, sore mouth and throat, liver and gallbladder complaints, loss of appetite, muscle spasms, fluid retention, and tendency toward infection. It is also used as a tonic. There are so many uses for this beautiful flower, its so much more then just love me love me nots!
Flower heads can be gathered for food and eaten raw- we love to gather and munch them like trail mix whenever we go on walks and hikes. The kids can always be founds picking the heads, saying mmmm pineapples! Pineapple weed is in the same family as the more commonly known plant, German chamomile, except that pineapple weed is more commonly found in your backyard. You can find them in sidewalk cracks,. along side houses, along parks and ravines. Go look outside, I bet you will find some close by ! Just a few of the known benefits to pineapple weed are preventing parasitic infection, aiding sleep, reducing fever, boosting the immune system, improving skin health, speeding healing, soothing the digestive system, lowering stress levels and increasing milk production. I like to use it mainly for my sleepy-time and calming teas made especially for my kidlets!
I think everyone has one of these growing nearby, Some people say juniper can treat urinary tract infections (UTIs), kidney stones, diabetes, arthritis, muscle pain, GI infections and possibly even cancer. The berries are packed FULL of very rich antioxidents, and can help clear up inflammation. Tip: juniper tea can be mixed well with mint for a very delicious and soothing herbal tea.
I wrote a whole blog on the benefits of conifer herbal tea for cold and flu season , and cedar is one of the ingredients in it. While red cedar is most preferred and has the highest medicinal properties,, there are many other types of cedars that are just as powerful. White cedar and even some ornamental cedars can have a great impact on your health and well being. High in vitamin C, cedars are great for your immune system during cold and flu season, sore throats, clears your respiratory tract. Some other uses include many other conditions such as bronchitis, bacterial and viral infections like strep throat, herpes simplex virus, and the flu, and muscle pain.
Also called willowherbs, this plant is not usually found in backyards, however, this one is found behind my garage. I don't consume these ones, since as you can maybe tell from the picture, my dog uses this area as his dog run. -This is a fireweed that is not yet in bloom. The blooms will come around mid July and are a beautiful purple to pink color. The young stems and leaves can be eaten raw, some say they are similar to spinach and asparagus. Flowers can be added to salads! In Europe, fireweed has been used for treatment of prostate problems, and is currently under investigation for treatment of prostate ailments. Herbal teas can be made from fireweed for conditions of asthma and whooping cough. First Nations used fireweed externally for burns and other skin conditions, and drank it as a tea for gastro-intestinal and bronchial problems. This plant got its name because it is usually one of the first plants to pop up after a wildfire.
Not a whole lot of information regarding any medicnal benefits of this plant, other then the whole plant being a mild diuretic. ne thing to note is to be careful with your dogs, they have been known to sniff the dried bars of the tails up their noses and require surgery to remove them.
This plant, I have growing in patches all over my yard and is extremely invasive. It has the ability to overrun an entire garden. The flowers produced from this plant are beautiful and some parts are known to be edible. Some medicinal uses of this creeping vine are for treating fever, urinary tract problems, and constipation; and for increasing bile production. There are also some contradictions and warnings for Bindweed, so please make sure to do your research if you plant to harvest it. I wont be using it, I will just let it row and hopefully enjoy looking at the flowers in a few weeks!
Red clover is one of my favorites! The plants pictured above are young clovers, that have not yet produced the large stunning red/purple flowers that are used widely in herbal tea. Red clover is used in many cultures around the world for its effects on hormonal cancers and blood cancers. Red clover is a well known blood purifier and liver detox, removing toxins and essentially cleaning the blood. There are many articles and papers that state that red clovers phytoestrogens have a negative effect on estrogen cancers, and just as many articles that say it has a positive effect on estrogen based cancers. I have done some extensive research on this exact topic and have concluded from my own research that the plant estrogen in red clover not only helps the estrogen in our own bodies, but it balances out our hormones, thus making it less likely to develop hormonal cancers in women. Clover tea has been used for things like treating coughs, fevers, sore throats, asthma, bronchitis and headaches. Please, I highly suggest that you always do your own research and come to your own conclusions for what works for yourself and family regarding all herbs. There are other types of clovers, all of which can be used in the same way, however, red clover is the most potent clover available.
Sorry for the blurry picture! All parts of shepherds purse are edible, and can be added to salads soups and stews.
Rich in vitamin C, helps to stimulate urination and even stops bleeding. Some other uses are for earaches, headaches, cramps, and internal bleeding. Traditionally used during childbirth the stop bleeding and aid in the delivery of the placenta by causing the uterus to contract. It has a similar effect to oxytocin, and pregnant women should NOT consume shepherds purse. Also is a member of the mustard family!
I have a few of these things pop up in my yard and I always yank them. They contain alkaloids in them that cause irreversible liver damage and after long term exposure can cause liver cancer. Stay away !
These things popped up for the first time in my garden this year and I love them! Sonchus oleraceus has many medicinal properties like Antidepressant, Antinociceptive, Anxiolytic, Antioxidant, Antimicrobial, Antitumor, Antimalarial, blood purifier, hepatic, sedative, febrifuge, tonic, Anti-inflammatory, and anticancer. It has also been a mild sedative and tonic.
I have just learned of this plant this year! From what i have learned so far, it is quite similar to spinach. The young leaves are very tender and tasty. Even my kids love to nibble on them. This one is a very young plant and I suspect it still has a lot of growing to do ! The leaves contain a large amount of vitamin C and was used by fist nations for the treatment of scurvy and stomachaches. Leaves have been given to children to expel worms . There are many other benefits to this plant but I am running out of time to write this blog ! Actually, I just want to hurry up now to get swimming in our pool. Its about 43 degrees right now here in Edmonton!
We all know how tasty raspberries are and most of us eat them year round. Raspberry season is one of my kids favorite time of the summer, we travel the alleys and parks trolling for fresh raspberries to gorge on and fill our buckets with ! Lucky this time around we have a giant bush right in our own backyard, but the fun of walking around in search of plump ripe berries just does not feel the same as picking them at home. Raspberry leave is great for an all around womens health herbal tea. Used to strengthen and tone the uterus. It has been given to women before and after childbirth and can help with the symptoms of ovarian cysts.It is known for Hormone balancing too !
The benefits of this plant should not be overlooked! Please go and check out my full blog post regarding the many uses of plantain and try out my recipe to make salve too!
Also known as creeping thistle, Canada thistle is a staple in my kitchen for soups and stews. Also a very useful survival food in the case of lacking a water supply, thistle stalks contain a significant amount of water in their stems. To get to it. you just cut the plant at the base, hold it upside down and hack off each leave one by one. once you are done, shave off the top layer of the stalk to remove any more lingering prickles. you can eat the stalk as is, or chop it up into pieces and fry with butter, lemon and garlic. The taste is similar to celery. The leaves and flowers can be dried and used for tea, known to treat intestinal worms inhibit conception and increase milk supply. The flowers can also be used as a long lasting chewing gum! Diretic, and a tonic, the herbal tea is beneficial in so many ways. Be careful when harvesting thistles, use gloves! The prickles become useless when dried and powdered.
Can be easily identified by the barbed spikes that run along the back of the leaves. This is a young plant, but these can get very large and tall! Medicinal benefits to this plant are the same as wild lettuce, maybe a bit milder. Used for whooping cough, asthma, urinary tract problems, cough, restlessness, excitability in children, painful menstrual periods, muscular or joint pains, poor circulation, , and as an opium substitute in cough preparations.
I hope that you have found some very beneficial information regarding the many plants and weeds that are common to find in most places! There is one plant that I did not include, this was dandelion, however, i have devoted an entire blog on dandelions on my page, Thats how amazing dandelion is to me! If you have any questions, or know of the names of some of the plants on this article that I was not able to identify, please let me know in the comments below!
*This information for educational purposes only. This blog post is not intended to cure any type of disease or replace any prescription medication you are currently taking.
Always make sure to check with your doctor before choosing herbal teas or salves for remedies, as some herbs may not work for all people and may react to certain medications.
This post is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease or illness. It is not intended to represent or replace professional medical advice or prescription medicine. It is not intended to give medical advise either. ** Please make sure to PROPERLY IDENTIFY any and all plants before you decide to harvest of consume them! Always make sure to research as much as you can about a plant, or about anything natural that you consume. Knowledge is power!