Another Weed Salad – Eating Chickweed

There are actually quite a large number of edible weeds. I don’t like many of them – I dislike the taste of dandelion (though I do use it as a medicinal herb), and the texture of a few edibles is less than enjoyable (mullien is just too fuzzy, thank you anyway). I like Plantain, but can’t find it growing here. I’m pretty sure the prolific weed in our flower beds is Mare’s Tail, but there are so many similar weeds that I am not absolutely sure if my identification, and not quite confident enough to toss it in the bowl or pot until I am certain.

Last night though, we walked outside our front door, and looked in an area we’d previously ignored (being hidden by our neighbor’s cars), and found chickweed. A lot of chickweed. Some of it is in an area we would not want to use it from, but there are a couple of really lush plants in the corners that I am going to transplant, and put to work. When I showed it to my neighbor, and explained what it was, she said, “I’ve been trying to kill that!”. This is actually kind of funny, because she has been trying for years to get something “edible” to grow in that spot. I suspect she may decide to serve up the Chickweed with dressing instead in the future.

Edible weeds are terrific because they are tasty, free, and they grow exceptionally well without any special care. Many are very high in vital nutrients – more so than more popular cultivated greens. Some have special properties that will aid in recovery from 21st Century illnesses.

Chickweed is just such a plant. Proliferates easily, healthy for most people, and has some special attributes.

It has long been associated with weight loss. It contains saponins, which aid the body in breaking down and releasing fat. This means that for certain people, overconsumption could be a problem. Our neighbor’s husband has difficulty retaining weight, so he’d not want to be chowing down on chickweed every day. Because of this attribute, and how the body rids itself of excess weight, people with liver or kidney ailments would need to exercise caution in consumption as well. A cup or so of fresh leaves a day is MOST likely safe, even for people with medical problems of this kind. You just don’t want to go hog wild on it and try living on chickweed salads if you have this kind of medical issue.

Along with purslane, and Lamb’s Quarters, chickweed is another plant that we’d do well to stop fighting, and start using. Every part of the plant above the ground is edible – stems, leaves, flowers, and seeds. The roots are sometimes used medicinally.

The leaves and flowers taste “green”. There is no other word for it, they just taste green! The stems are crispy, the rest has a texture more like leaf lettuce.

It is valuable not only as a food crop, but as a forage crop for animals. It is an aggressive seeder, so gathering seeds from it in the fall means you can easily toss out seed to extend the range of this friendly weed. Poultry loves it, and it is good for cattle and goats, and of course, pigs love it.

If you absolutely cannot find any near you, there are sources for seed online. It will thrive in a pot, or pretty much anywhere. It does well in poor soil (sandy or gravely, even clay), and bursts forth in lush green each time it rains. It produces tiny white flowers which are enjoyed by bees and butterflies.

Definitely something of worth, which should be rediscovered and appreciated.

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