National Weed Appreciation Day on March 28th each year reminds us that some weeds are beneficial to us and our ecosystem. 

Humans have used weeds for food and as herbs for much of recorded history. Some are edible and nutritious, while other weeds have medicinal value.

Do you remember as a small child the fun you had with dandelions? Well, these bright yellow flowers serve a purpose. Dandelions are a food source for insects and some birds. Humans eat young dandelion leaves and enjoy tea and wine made from the leaves and flowers. The Native Americans used dandelions to treat specific ailments. Nutritionally, dandelions contain a source of vitamin A and C, calcium, iron, and fiber.
There are also other edible and medicinal weeds, some of which include:
  • Yellow Dock/Burdock:
The taproot of young burdock plants can be harvested and eaten as a root vegetable. We may also harvest immature flower stalks in late spring before flowers appear. The flavor of the young stem resembles that of an artichoke. It is a good source of dietary fiber and certain minerals, including calcium and potassium. It is also used as a medicinal herb.
  • Lamb’s Quarter: (also known as goosefoot)
The leaves of lamb’s quarter are excellent added to lettuce salads or cooked and used as a replacement for spinach. Lamb’s quarter seeds are also edible. They are a good source of protein and vitamin A.
  • Amaranth: (also known as pigweed) 
Amaranth species are cultivated and consumed as a leaf vegetable in many parts of the world. The leaves can be cooked, and their seeds can be harvested and cooked the same as quinoa. The root of mature amaranth is a popular vegetable. It is white and usually cooked with tomatoes or tamarind gravy. The plant has a milky taste and is alkaline. It is also high in vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, K, B6, calcium, iron, and the seeds are a good protein source.
  • Purslane
It may be eaten as a leaf vegetable but is considered a weed in the United States. While the plant has a slightly sour and salty taste when eaten, the stems, leaves, and flower buds are all edible. Purslane may be used fresh as a salad, stir-fried, or cooked as spinach is. Because of its sticky quality, it also is suitable for soups and stews. Nutritionally, it is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and is high in omega-3 fatty acids. Purslane also grows in all 50 states.
  • Dollarweed: (also known as pennywort)
This aquatic plant thrives in a wet, sandy habitat. It is native to North America and parts of South America. However, it also grows as an introduced species and sometimes a noxious weed on other continents. As an edible weed, it can be used in salads or as a potherb.
Before using any weed as a food source, make sure it is correctly identified and free of herbicides and pesticides.  Research the safe edible part of each weed and find useful cooking and preparation tips.

HOW TO OBSERVE #WeedAppreciationDay

 Take the day to learn some of the benefits of the plants, weeds, flora, and fauna around us. Learn the uses and share your knowledge using #WeedAppreciationDay on social media.


 Our research was unable to find the origin and the creator of National Weed Appreciation Day.

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