Rare Exotic Plants For The Backyard Garden – Part 8 – Edible Weeds

There Are Such Things As “Edible” Weeds!

Woulda thunk it – that there are actually edible weeds that we can grow in our gardens!  And, some of them make great companion plants!

Well, here’s a host of them that are easy to grow and delightful to devour.  Most of them are lip smacking good – delectable, mouthwatering morsels for your sophisticated palate!

Read on for culinary enlightenment!



Burdock is one of the great edible weeds.

Once you get past those burred little orbs that will stick to your clothes and skin like Velcro, this plant offers an exciting change to your gastronomic endeavors.

As a side note, Velcro was envisioned by inventor George de Mestral after he experienced these burrs clinging to his pants and his dog’s fur while walking in the woods one day in the 1940’s.

The burdock roots – especially during the first year of growth – are crunchy and edible – but slightly bitter.

You’ll experience the same bitterness when eating the leaves, the pinkish purple flowers, and the round seed sacs (burs) that stick to your clothes.

Outsidepride burdock seeds

The seeds inside the burs can be germinated in a jar of water and eaten just like bean sprouts.

The stems are a bit milder.

Add oven roasted burdock to sautéed veggies, stews, and stir fries along with your choice of vegetables.  Raw leaves and stems can be added to salads and side dishes, too.  Many folks enjoy burdock tea as well.

Burdock has been used over the millennia for any number of ailments – including arthritis, rheumatism, gout, acne, psoriasis, colds, and cancer to name a few.  It also is a good way to clean up your blood!

Outsidepride has the best burdock seeds – guaranteed to grow well in USDA hardiness zones 2 through 10.



Chickweed is one of the great edible weeds.

Chickweed tastes a little like flowery medicine – mildly salty – aromatic – and still a bit sweet – kinda like a cross between anise and parsley.

Try to use stems, leaves, and flowers within a couple of days after cutting – as a raw addition to sandwiches and salads – just like you would with spinach or lettuce.

It’s a nice touch to add chickweed to soups and stews, too – or, in a favorite sauté.

It is worth noting that this weed contains a toxic chemical called, saponins – which are also present in legumes (beans, peanuts, etc.) as well as “nightshade” veggies like potatoes and tomatoes.  Saponins are more toxic to animals than they are to humans.  But – not to worry – any species eating chickweed would have to eat a ton of it to even get an upset stomach – and, death is almost as rare as hens’ teeth!Frozen Seed Capsules chickweed seeds

By the way, birds – especially hens – love to gorge themselves on chickweed!

Folk medicine touts chickweed’s knack for alleviating itchy skin and dermatitis.  Chickweed also lessens the painful effects of rheumatism, arthritis, and the uncomfortable cyclic bouts of menstruation.  Since chickweed is highly fortified with iron, it is commonly prescribed to treat iron deficiency anemia.

Frozen Seed Capsules produces the highest quality chickweed seeds.


Curly Dock

Curly dock is one of the great edible weeds.

This weed contains high amounts of oxalic acid which makes it not only bitter to the point of giving your mouth a permanent “pucker” – but, eaten in large quantities, curly dock can cause irritation in the urinary tract and act as a catalyst to the development of kidney stones.  And, if you’re still breast feeding your young’un, you may want to refrain from eating this unique plant due to its ability to easily cause diarrhea in babies.  You don’t want your nursing child have the “runs” before they can walk, do you?

Many adults have used curly dock as a laxative over the years.

TIPRed Earth Seeds curly dock seeds

Even though the exorbitant amount of oxalic acid in curly dock sounds a little scary, it’s easy to reduce the acid content by boiling the leaves, seeds, and stems several times – rinsing them in a colander after each time.  This gets rid of almost all the oxalic acid and bitterness – leaving you with a worthy ingredient for anything you would normally put leafy greens into – especially soups and sautés.

If you eat them raw, remember that moderation is the key.

Curly dock – is a premium source of vitamins A and C – plus, a great way to get iron and potassium into your diet.

Connect with Red Earth Seeds – a great supplier of curly dock seeds!



Dandelions are some great edible weeds.

For as long as we can imagine, mammals, including us humans, have been eating dandelions.  They came on the scene 30 million years ago – during the Oligocene period.

Being an abundant source of vitamins (A, C, and K) – and other nutrients (Calcium, Iron, Manganese, and Potassium) – these weeds were optimistically brought to North America on the Mayflower –as a food source – as well as a natural medicine – used as a diuretic – and as a remedy for liver problems and high blood pressure.

All parts of the plant – the flowers, the leaves, the stems, and the roots – are eatable.  There is a truly down-to-earth, pleasantly bitter and nutty taste to dandelions – somewhat like endives or radicchios.

I like to use the raw flowers in my salads.  Plus, I may use any combination of plant parts – including stems and roots – in my sautéed vegetables – or stews.

Now, if you haven’t had dandelion tea, you haven’t lived!  Just add a touch of lemon and a little honey and you’re good to go!  What a refreshing option!

Don’t get me started on how truly excellent my grandfather’s dandelion wine used to be – God rest his soul!  He was the only person I know who could make wine that kicked like a mule!  What a master winemaker!  He could make deliciously potent wine out of just about any plant you could think of!

Lastly, dandelions are, indeed, great companion plants for anyone’s garden!  They attract a gardener’s favorite pollinators – the bees – and, they lure those dastardly cucumber beetles away from your squash plants!

I know of two – count them – two – great places to get the best dandelion seeds:

Seed Needs dandelion seedsOutsidepride dandelion seeds








Seed Needs – will send out a packet of 10,000 dandelion seeds that have a very high germination rate – 95%+.

Outsidepride – is my standard “go-to” for rare and exotic seeds and they can send out a pack of 5,000 seeds for a very low cost.  Their germination rates are also in the high 90’s.



Purslane is one of the great edible weeds.

With red stems, small green leaves, and purty little flowers – all of which are ready to add a bit of sour and salty taste to any salad or sandwich – purslane exists to be a welcome addition that adds variety to the dinner table!

Tasting a bit like spinach or watercress – it grows all over the world in just about any environment imaginable.

When cooked in a stew – or stir fry – or sauté – much of the acid – oxalic and malic – is released – dampening the sour taste effect.  That means your lips won’t be all pinched up so much!

As with the other edible weeds, purslane contains a healthy number of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients – which makes it very valid to enhance the effectiveness of our body functions.

It can liven up the heart – it’s anti-inflammatory – it works as a laxative – it will soften the skin making it more pliable – and, it performs successfully as a diuretic to hasten the passing of liquid waste out of the body.  Trust me – it will make you pee a lot!

It has even been pointed to as a great treatment for increasing the strength and quality of our skeleton and alleviating some skin conditions.

It just does the body good – as they say!

I have two super sources for purslane seeds and they are:

Outsidepride purslane seeds
Zellajake Farm and Garden purslane seeds
Zellajake Farm and Garden









Sheep’s SorrelSheep's sorrel is one of the great edible weeds.

Also called red sorrel – or sour weed – sheep’s sorrel leaves (shaped like the head of an arrow) – as well as the maroon colored female flowers, stems, roots, and seeds – can be eaten raw.  When I use this uncooked weed, I add it to salads, bread, or sandwiches as a garnish – because, it is so outrageously sour that it needs to be mixed with other ingredients to reduce the tartness.  Think “rhubarb.”

Sheep’s sorrel does, however, satisfy my desire for a zesty lemony additive to my meals.

Add it to just about any cooked dish as a spicy alternative – stews, stir fries, soups, sautés, and more.

You can keep cutting chunks off this plant and the stems continue to grow back – over and over again!

Frozen Seed Capsules sheep’s sorrel seeds

This weed has also been used to promote the curdling of milk when making cheese.

Due to the high nutrient content, it has been very common to use sheep’s sorrel in the treatment of a number of ailments – inflammation, diarrhea, scurvy, and even cancer!

All manner of birds and mammals enjoy sheep’s sorrel, too.  Deer and rabbits will be attracted by leaps and bounds!

Frozen Seed Capsules – is the top source for the best sheep’s sorrel seeds.


Stinging Nettle

Stinging nettle is one of the great edible weeds.

If you’re reading this, I would hazard a guess that you have been stung by stinging nettle sometime in your life!!!  That’s a safe bet, huh?

If you’re like me, you would never have thought that this weed was safe to eat.  Matter of fact, it is just as much a great gastronomic peppery fare as arugula or spinach would be on your menu – and, it tastes about the same – except that nettle does lack the robust iron-ey taste of spinach.

Allow me to impart some tricks and techniques needed when you start gathering and preparing stinging nettle for a meal:

  1. Wear gloves – and use scissors or pruning shears to remove the leaves!
  2. Only use young, bright green leaves – before the plant begins to flower. Once flowering begins – as the weather warms up in mid-summer – the leaves become much coarser and turn a grayish white color – at which time they are not fit to be eaten – and are no longer desirable.
  3. Cook the leaves – or, at least steam them – before eating – to remove the formic acid which gives stinging nettle leaves their vicious venom. Alternatively, if you want to make a green smoothie, running them through a blender will destroy their ability to harm your skin.

This weed is another green leafy food that can be steamed, sautéed, or stir fried – and added as a topping to veggies, pasta, soups, stews – and so on – and so forth.  You can even make nettle tea!  Imagine that!

With its wealth of nutrients – vitamins (A, B, C, and K) – minerals (Sodium, Magnesium, Calcium, Iron, Phosphorus, and Potassium) – and fatty acids (Linoleic, Linolenic, Palmitic, Stearic, and Oleic) – it becomes a no-brainer to include stinging nettle in our daily diets.

Stinging nettle has been used for decades for treatment of muscle and joint pain, skin itches and rashes, anemia, gout, and the like.  And, it’s a great diuretic that helps flush out the toxins that cause urinary problems – and, those toxins will sometimes lead to an enlarged prostate.

Nettle lowers blood pressure, promotes healthy blood circulation, and combats heart disease.

It increases testosterone levels in men – leading to improvements in sexual health and performance.  I am always interested in improving my health AND performance!

This amazing plant – rich in silica and sulfur – when applied to the scalp – helps fight hair loss – aids in hair re-growth – and can even help to restore your original hair color!  I’m not just whistlin’ Dixie!


If you do get stung by stinging nettle leaves, the itching and burning can last up to a full day – if you don’t treat the cause.  But – never fear – help is here.

The thing to remember is this plant’s chemical defense is formic acid – along with several other histamine-like chemicals.

Outsidepride – Stinging Nettle Plant Seeds

So – just neutralize the acid!

And, how do you do that?

  1. Well – first – wash your hands immediately with soap and water – while you’re still feeling the itch and burn.
  2. Then, mix up a paste using baking soda (an alkaline) and a little water – and coat the affected area. Leave the paste on for 10 or 15 minutes – or, at least until the symptoms diminish.

In no time at all, the discomfort will vanish.

Abracadabra – PRESTO – all is well again!

Now – go out and get some Outsidepride – Stinging Nettle Plant Seeds – and get started growing this mind-blowing weed!


I bet you never thought you could eat weeds – especially if you’re prone to “conventional” thought like I am.  But, when you start thinking outside the box, the world – and all its food possibilities – are wondrous to behold!

Comment below or email me – and, tell me if you are a “weed eater.”  Or, if you only have a yard tool – called a “weed eater” – that is electric or gasoline powered – designed to destroy these additional food sources!


Jim, the Lifelong Gardener


12 thoughts on “Rare Exotic Plants For The Backyard Garden – Part 8 – Edible Weeds

  1. Feji ben Reply

    I must say you have done a great job on this article as it is very nice and informative too and i know it would be of great help to the public as it has been of help to me. Your list was really top notch I like 3 of those plants and I already have them in my backyard garden and I think I will add chickweed to it.

    • Jim Reply

      Chickweed is a good one to add.  But, after looking at all the others, I ended up getting seeds from each of them.  I guess I went a little overboard…


  2. Rhain Reply

    I had no idea burdock could be used in a variety of ways. Like you clearly emphasized, its oven-roasted variety can be added to sautéed veggies and stews. It’s pretty interesting. To further find out that the same burdock can be used to relief ailments which includes arthritis, rheumatism and even cancer is just amazing. There’s so much to discover from this article. I’m glad I found it.

    Thanks for sharing

    • Jim Reply

      Burdock is surprising – knowing that it is a great food!  It’s also astonishing to know all the illnesses that it combats – just like most of the other weeds in the list.


  3. Shanta Rahman Reply

    Many thanks for sharing with us such a beautiful article .We have a yard in our house and there are also some weeds in the back .But I didn’t know we could eat some of them again .Weeds such as Outsidepride burdock seeds can be known as trustable .I didn’t realize before reading this article that we could actually eat it . I’ll bring it up today and test it out .I suggest you try this as a leaf and lentil salad .And enjoy tea this afternoon .The biggest thing is it is good medicine for rheumatism, gout, colds, acne, some diseases that have my acne problem. Again I found that it is very good for cleaning blood .You certainly deserve praise for such a great article.

    • Jim Reply

      Hi Shanta,

      I’ll give the leaf and lentil salad a try – with a sprinkling of burdock.  I’ve already tried the tea – with a little honey and lemon.

      I’m sure it can also help your acne issues.


  4. sabrinamou Reply

    I am glad to see your article. I like the plants very much. To be honest, I recognized the trees but I didn’t know the benefits of these plants. Thanks for the details. Your article will benefit all of us. Thank you so much for sharing a beautiful and helpful article.

    • Jim Reply

      Glad you got something out of my edible weeds article.  Most people wouldn’t even think that weeds can be not only healthy to eat – but, delicious, too!


  5. PeterMinea Reply

    Hey Jim!

    These are some very nice and beautiful pieces of nature, reminding us that there are many “little things” around us, just that we should have eyes to notice them. In my opinion, the prettiest weeds from the list are Dandelions and Purslane – yellow is one of my preferred colors, too.

    As for dandelions, when I was 13 years old, my grandmother – God rest her soul as well! – prepared a tasty meal based on dandelions taken from our garden, it was like a special syrup and I liked it much. That is just an example of what we may obtain from weeds!

    Kind regards, Peter

    • Jim Reply

      Hi Peter,

      I really enjoy dandelions and purslane on my salads – and even sautéed with a few choice veggies.

      My grandma used to sprinkle dandelions on top of my pancakes – after dusting them with powdered sugar.  I miss those scrumptious meals.  R.I.P. grandma!


  6. Nimrodngy Reply

    Hello. Thanks a lot for this amazing article.

    I’ve been thinking of putting some exotic plants in my backyard garden for a long time. I mean, I have an exotic plant in my house called AECHEMA FASCIATA (Urn Plant), if you’ve heard of it. The most important thing is to adapt this plant to the right living environment as a constant temperature. I would like to try Stinging Nettle, because I have heard that it is good for rheumatism treatments. Thanks again for this article. I will share in on my social media accounts where i have a lot of friends in love with rare exotic plants.

    Wish you all the best!

    • Jim Reply

      That is also called a “silver vase” – and, it’s highly poisonous and toxic – causing skin rashes and other dermal issues.  You really should use gloves when you handle it – especially, if you have any allergies.

      Stinging nettle is just one of the many weeds that can be used for medicinal purposes.  Just make sure you protect your skin from direct contact with the raw leaves.


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