In Medicinal Uses For Weeds Commonly Found Around Your Home – Part 1, I went over the beneficial properties of three medicinal weeds. Purslane, ground ivy, and chickweed are among some of the most beneficial wild plants, but the list doesn’t stop there!
Today, we’ll go over the medicinal properties of four more wild plants. There are literally hundreds of edible and medicinal weeds across the globe, but, as in part one, I will discuss the most commonly found wild plants found around your home.
Word of Caution…
As I did in part one, I would like to share with you two articles which include information on safety precautions you need to be aware of when foraging for wild, medicinal weeds. In my article, Foraging Tips for the 7 Most Common Edible Plants, I share great tips on things to consider and to look out for when you forage for any and all wild, edible plants. Another great article, “Need To Know” Rules When Picking Edible & Medicinal Plants, is written by Mykel Hawke, star of Discovery’s “Man, Woman, Wild.” He also talks about considerations and safety precautions to take when foraging in the wild. I sincerely encourage you to read these articles if you have never foraged for wild and edible plants. Foraging can be a great experience but, safety precautions are a must!
Let’s get started!
Commonly Found Medicinal Weeds
There are many types of thistles, all of which are edible. The thistle plant is tall,upright, and slender. The tips of the leaves have sharp thorns, so be sure to handle them with care. It is recommended that you wear gloves when handling thistle.
The flowers of this wild plant can be purple, pink, white, yellow, or red.
The edible parts of this medicinal weed are the tender leaves, stems, shoots, and roots. The flavor is a cool, cucumber-like taste. You can peel the rootstocks and eat them raw. You can use the shoots and leaves in vegetable roasts, stir-fries, teas, or soups.
The thistle plant is rich in vitamins A and C, magnesium, copper, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and potassium. It is used to treat obstructions of the spleen, liver, pancreas, kidneys, and gallbladder. Thistle is also high in water content, so if you're dehydrated and without water this wild plant could be a lifesaver.
Wild Violet (Viola)
This gorgeous wild plant comes in many different colors. Purple and yellow are the most common. Other colors can include blue, pink, and white. The yellow violet has heart shaped leaves. The leaves of the purple violet are also heart shaped but are more elongated. The violet has five petals with a yellow center.
The edible parts of these medicinal weeds are the flowers, leaves, and stems, which have a sweet and salty flavor. You can eat the greens and flowers raw, sautéed, steamed, or boiled. Violets also make great additions to a green salad.
The violet plant is rich in vitamin C and is used to treat inflammations, coughs, and sore throats. Caution: Violets may contain laxative properties. Please test a small amount to check for an intestinal reaction.
Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine Hirsuta)
The hairy bittercress plant is related to the large bittercress and the wavy bittercress, all of which belong to the mustard family. All three plants are edible.
The hairy bittercress is a cluster of small green leaves with vertical stick-like stems that shoot straight up with little white petals at the end.
The edible parts of this wild plant are the flower stalks and leaves. The roots can be finely grated and added to dishes as a flavoring. The spicy flavor of hairy bittercress makes for a great addition to a green salad.
Hairy bittercress is loaded with vitamin C, antioxidants, beta carotene, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur-containing compounds that will help boost your immunity system and can also help prevent cancer.
Prickly Lettuce (Lactuca Serriola)
Prickly lettuce is very similar to sow thistle in appearance. One of the main physical differences between the two plants is the flower of prickly lettuce has some white in it, whereas the the flower of the sow is pure yellow. The flowers of prickly lettuce open early morning and will close when it gets hot.
The edible parts are the leaves and the flowers. This plant is best eaten when it's young.
Prickly lettuce does have trace amounts of opium and is nicknamed by some as “opium lettuce.” It acts as a pain killer, mild sedative, and tranquilizer, so very small amounts are recommended. Eating this in excess can slow down your heart rate and cause you to be abnormally restless.
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Happy and safe foraging everyone!
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What edible, wild plants have you used for medicinal purposes? Tell us in the comments below!
Check out these other great articles for more information on medicinal plants: