Edible Weed Facts


What is a weed?

Some plants are definitely weeds, and others are not, aren’t they? A weed is a plant which is dangerous? Poisonous? Unattractive? Not native? Inconvenient? OR simply a plant growing where we don't want it.

  • Some plants that we think of as weeds today were not considered a weed in the past.
  • Some plants we think of as weeds where we live, or in our community, are not considered a weed in other cultures or countries.

“What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Fortune of the Republic, 1878

“A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows.”
Doug Larson


Nasturtium flower

Why consider eating edible weeds?

Don’t we have enough abundant sources of food? Isn’t it a pain foraging for weeds? Surely they taste pretty ordinary? Surely they aren’t nutritious? How on earth would I cook them? Only people who can’t afford ‘real’ food would eat edible weeds, wouldn’t they?

Why the renewed interest in Edible Weeds? Because they are...

  • Abundant - they grow everywhere!
  • Free - just find them and pick them!
  • Easy - they grow without any effort from you!
  • Nutritious - many are more nutritious than things you grow in your veggie patch!

Many of these plants have been eaten or used for their medicinal properties for thousands of years. In many countries some are still considered delicacies today!


How many species of edible plants are there??

How many SPECIES of edible plants are there on the planet? Thought starter … … carrots are ONE species of edible plant

Answer...There are over 20,000 species of edible plants!!! How many do we usually eat today? About 20 species of edible plants!

Our plant diet has become more and more narrow. Edible weeds are a way to begin to bring that richness back into our diet.  

CARROTS are one species with... over 40 different seeds available - different colours, shapes, sizes, tastes, textures.

But most of the carrots in our supermarkets and fruit shops are ONE TYPE - Nantes.


Warrigal greens - an Australian native edible 'weed'

A bit of history

  • In Australia, many weeds came out with the First Fleet (1788), in soil, crop seed or attached to clothing. Only 14 years later, botanists found most English weeds growing here.
  • Australia’s colonial pioneers ate wild greens to combat scurvy when other foods were scarce.
  • Other 'weeds' were native to Australia.


A note of CAUTION - before you start out with edible weeds...

  • Not all parts of a plant may be edible...
  • Some edible plants need to be cooked to be made edible
  • Plants can have poisonous look-alikes
  • Only eat a plant you are sure you have identified correctly – don’t try things
  • Just because an animal or bird eats it doesn’t mean its edible for humans
  • Some things are edible but not practical... ever tried cooking an agave root!?



The 'pin-up girl' of the edible weed world - and justifiably so since is it arguably the most nutritious of them all!

A unique combination of vitamins, minerals, trace elements and other biologically active substances in a ratio optimal for the human body.

The US Dept of Agriculture Bulletin ranked dandelion in the top 4 green vegetables in overall nutritional value.

Dandelion blossoms are high in Vitamins A and C.

Dandelion is a great blood builder and purifier.

Dandelion is rich in fibre, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and the B vitamins, thiamine and riboflavin, and a good source of protein!


Edible Weeds - not just Edible!

Did you know that these amazing plants are not just edible? They can have a raft of other benefits!!

  • Companion plants
  • Attract/host beneficial insects
  • Repel 'bad bugs' eg., slugs, aphids
  • Have medicinal and healing properties
  • Can be used as dyes
  • Soil breakers
  • Bring up nutrients from deep down in the ground through long tap roots
  • Can be soil indicators - how much water is in the soil, the nutrients in the soil
  • Provide stock fodder
  • Good ground covers
  • Green mulches
  • Nitrogen fixers

Is there nothing these weeds can't do!


Thank you for visiting Hello Little Weed. Happy 'weeding'!