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What is your Favorite Weed?

 
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It is easy to hate weeds.  I had one I hated for a long time called Burr Clover.  I finally made peace with that weed and it no longer bothers me.

The current weed that I want to make peace with is called Sticky Willie.  I read a lot of threads where Cleavers are mentioned time and time again.  I have not learned what people see in that weed.

For years my favorite weed was Thistle because it has such a pretty pink flower that when dried it looks nice in a dried flower arrangement.

A lot of folks consider Stinging nettles and plantain weed.  Like many weeds, they have value in their medicinal qualities. I will say that these are my favorite weeds.

Do you have some weeds that you appreciate?



 
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Dandelion and Pokeweed for me.  I love the greens of both and both are medicinal!
 
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St. John's Wort here. I had a two pop up and I just planted seeds from them that I saved. So wait, I guess it is no longer a weed...
 
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Great subject Anne!
I'm cultivating lawn daisies to make a living path along with white clover in my new 'natural farming' area. They are low growing, almost evergreen and if they spread around who can resist the cheerful little flowers? They are also allegedly edible, although I'm not keen on the leaves, and like the flowers to look at too much to eat.

I'm trying to build a relationship with dock at the moment. They are keen to colonise my cultivated land and smother out other seedlings. However they are a great fertility builder with very deep taproots which break up compacted soil. The leaves are edible, and actually quite palatable at the just unfurling and slimy stage when raw, although I found them not so nice cooked, which was unexpected, and a pity since cooking destroys the oxalic acid they contain. The seeds are edible - related to buckwheat they are a little bitter and small, but maybe could be bred to improve this. The fact docks smother out competition is great, unless you want to grow something else!  I haven't got to the stage of planting them yet though!
dock-removal-digging
Cutting Docken root

If you do need to get rid of mature docks I have found that if I cut through the dock root just below the growing point 9 times out of 10 the plant does not grow back. I have some sort of grub in the soil that eats dock roots, so I think it accounts for the remainder of the root. Sheet mulching to remove them takes a long time. the docks will just punch their way through corrugated cardboard and carry on growing quite happily.
 
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My rabbits love dock leaves both curly and yellow dock.  I am already feeding them some as the dock is coming up and the leaves are about 3 inches long.    

I love purslane and lambsquarters to use for human food.  But one of my new favorite weeds is giant ragweed.  Yep giant ragweed.  The only place it grows successfully is where my goats can't get to it. They love the stuff. I cut it and throw it to the goats. I even saved some of the giant ragweed seed to throw out in the pasture to grow for the goats.  

I hate smartweed, but I was watching an reading the meateater email newsletter and they mentioned that wild ducks love smartweed. I had have a lot of smart weed and I hate it as my goats won't eat a lot of it and my horses and cows don't eat much of it.  So in this one fenced in area I have that is a  chicken yard most of the time was infested with amazingly healthy smart weed. I bought some White Pekin Ducklings that were discounted to 1 dollar each at TSC (Tractor Supply Store).  When they got big enough to be out on the yard, they munched out on all that smart weed and kept it down to 4 to 6 inches tall and the chickens ate the rest of it after I butchered the ducks. Had a wonderful duck dinner yesterday....Thanks to Smart Weed.  I am thinking about duck tractors now to get some patches of smart weed in my pastures. LOL
 
Nancy Reading
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I had to look up giant ragweed (http://temperate.theferns.info/plant/Ambrosia+trifida) since it is not a plant that grows in the UK as far as I know. According to the Ferns' website it is medicinal, the seeds produce a useful edible oil, the stems yield a fibre for twine and rope, and the sap produces a red dye. It seems that it was (is?) also a crop for native Americans, since the seeds found in archaeological sites are larger than ones grown today.
 
Anne Miller
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Here are some weeds that were talked about in this thread.  

I thought while I was looking some of them up I would find some pictures for those folks that don't know what they look like and some threads about the weeds:


Ambrosia trifida, Giant Ragweed


Smartweed


patience dock


Cleavers - Sticky Willie

 
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Purslane, tasty little weeds they are.
 
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Cleavers has some medicinal properties. I have made a tincture with it. But I do pull a lot of it.

Right now my favorite weed is purple dead nettle. It crowds out some of the other weeds that I don't like so much. It's pretty and has medicinal qualities.
 
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Stacy Witscher wrote:Right now my favorite weed is purple dead nettle. It crowds out some of the other weeds that I don't like so much. It's pretty and has medicinal qualities.

Does anyone know if Purple dead nettle is edible by chickens or ducks? I've got a patch I thought I'd cut a bit shorter as "chop and drop" but if it could be "chop and animal food" it might be more useful that way at the moment.
 
Stacy Witscher
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Yes, you can feed purple dead nettle to your chickens and ducks.
 
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Jay Angler wrote:

Stacy Witscher wrote:Right now my favorite weed is purple dead nettle. It crowds out some of the other weeds that I don't like so much. It's pretty and has medicinal qualities.

Does anyone know if Purple dead nettle is edible by chickens or ducks? I've got a patch I thought I'd cut a bit shorter as "chop and drop" but if it could be "chop and animal food" it might be more useful that way at the moment.



Jay, I was snipping the taller clumps of dead nettle this past weekend and feeding them to my goats and chickens.  The goats really seemed to like them!
 
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I guess that amongst the many "weeds" that I like, dandelion has to be on top of the list.  It's a mineral accumulator and every part of the plant: flowers, leaves and roots is useful.  You can make a fizzy drink out of the flowers, as well as jam.  Petals can be added to cup cakes or salads.  The roots makes a coffee substitute. You can eat the tender leaves.  In France they make a salad of the young leaves with crispy bacon bits and garlic croutons. They remove the bitterness by covering the plant with something that will prevent daylight for a few days, it could be anything from an upturned flower pot, a cardboard box, or even some straw.  The entire plant is medicinal and you can make tea, tincture, salve, vinegar, macerated oil and so much more.  And of course, the bees love it, what's not to like about it??
 
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My favorite weed is probably wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana). Many people around here consider it a terrible lawn weed, and I even got into it with a lady that was weeding it out of the wildflower garden we were both working on last spring. It is native to this part of the world and spreads by beautiful red runners. Some people think the fruit is too small to bother with. I don't understand why. They're bigger than a skittle or m&m. People eat those, and the wild strawberries taste better than candy. Basically the perfect weed.
 
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Purslane!
 
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Toss up between purslane and lambs quarter.  love both!   Yum.
 
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Being new to western North Carolina, I’m just beginning to learn what some of these “weeds” are…I’m probably pulling out good medicinal weeds & beneficial garden weeds. Help! I need a weed mentor!
My favorite so far is wide leaf plantain which I’ve made onto a soothing, lung supporting tea…
 
Jay Angler
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Gaurī Rasp wrote:I’m probably pulling out good medicinal weeds & beneficial garden weeds. Help! I need a weed mentor!

The good thing about weeds, Gaurī, is that they tend to spontaneously reproduce - sometimes with great enthusiasm - so try not to fret if you pull some that you later find a use for. There's a good chance they'll show up again!
 
Anne Miller
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Gaurī Rasp wrote:Being new to western North Carolina, I’m just beginning to learn what some of these “weeds” are…I’m probably pulling out good medicinal weeds & beneficial garden weeds. Help! I need a weed mentor!
My favorite so far is wide leaf plantain which I’ve made onto a soothing, lung supporting tea…



One if the things that I did when we first bought our property was to start identifying everything to find out what they were and if there was edible or medicinal value.  

Every year I get a few new one to identify so mother nature keep me busy.

If you have one you can't figure out, take some pictures and ask on the forum.

That is one of my favorite topics ... "ID this plants".
 
Gaurī Rasp
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Thank you Jay! - we have plenty of land so you’re right…I’ll find it in plenty of other areas & And thank you Anne! I’ll check out the plant ID here!
 
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Wild lettuce is my favorite these days. I do nibble on it but I also let it grow around my trees to attract browsing deer as they walk through.
 
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hey gaurī! i’m near asheville too, and will likely recognize some of your weeds! identifying plants in pictures is something that a lot of people here seem to enjoy- so i encourage you to post some group shots of your new plant neighbors!

all: the way some folks think about ‘weeds’ makes me think we could be spoiled for choice in this thread. black walnuts, anyone? i think lambsquarter is still near the top of my list, though. i eat it nearly every day during its fairly long season.
 
Stacy Witscher
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So the definition of a weed that my mother always used was, a plant that you don't want where it is. When we like them, she always calls them volunteers.

But an aside to that, are weeds non-native invasives only or are natives we don't like included? Just a question, because I listed purple dead nettle as a current favorite and I'm pretty sure that's native (whatever that means). Not trying to start a fight, just curious as to what criteria others use.
 
Gaurī Rasp
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Greg…thanks for reaching out! We are 20 min out of Lake Lure, 25 minutes from Black Mountain. We started working this rural 5 acres of land last year. It’s darn hard work but oh so rewarding! I just sautéed a few morels that I found.
But getting back to “weeds”, any suggestions for good resources? Any mentors you know of in this area who could walk our land & help identify weeds & their benefits? Any other suggestions?
 
Anne Miller
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Stacy said, "just curious as to what criteria others use.



Since coming to this forum, and as I learned from Stephen Herrod Buhner "Invasive plants are Earth's way of insisting we notice her medicines."

When I started this thread, I used "weed" as what most people, not on the forum, think of plants as "weeds".

Gaurī Rasp said, "any suggestions for good resources?



I like to use a lot of resources.

Sometimes, I just ask Mr. Google something like "what plant has these characteristics _____________".  He is a pretty knowledgeable guy.

Another favorite:

https://www.wildflower.org/plants/index.php

I sometimes start with books that I have:

"Texas Wildflowers" written by Campbell and Lynn Loughmiller

Reader's Digest "North American Wildlife" because of the identification guide for flowers and trees.

Having resources particular to the state or area you live in is helpful.
 
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My vote goes to the stinging nettle Urtica dioica. You can make nettle tea, nettle beer, nettle scones, nettle soup etc etc. Then, when the plant is too old to taste nice you can make string from it. It is abundant on our property here in the north of the UK.
 
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As far as tasty ones I grab to put in a salad or omelet,  there's cleavers, bittercress, chickweed, violets, young dandelion leaves, plantain and lamb's quarters.   For medicinal qualities I like dandelion, burdock and self-heal, though I figure I'm forgetting a few.

Bittercress sprouts in my raised beds and I'd have to say it's officially the first crop of the year as I harvest from it until it's time to plant the cool season crops.
 
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Cara Campbell wrote:Purslane!



Yes, may absolute favorite weed to eat is purslane. Sadly, I keep living where it doesn't thrive. :-(

I also eat dandelions, lambs quarters (tons of those here), wood sorrel, spring beauty flowers, day lily flowers, the tips of greenbriars, clovers, wild mushrooms...lots of things.
 
Gail Gardner
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Bill Ramsey wrote:Wild lettuce is my favorite these days. I do nibble on it but I also let it grow around my trees to attract browsing deer as they walk through.



Now is the best time to eat wild lettuce if you can recognize it. It isn't as bitter when it is little. I've been throwing it to my ducks daily as they love it more than I do. I eat some of it, though.
 
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Gail Gardner wrote:

Bill Ramsey wrote:Wild lettuce is my favorite these days. I do nibble on it but I also let it grow around my trees to attract browsing deer as they walk through.



Now is the best time to eat wild lettuce if you can recognize it. It isn't as bitter when it is little. I've been throwing it to my ducks daily as they love it more than I do. I eat some of it, though.

Here we have what's called "Miner's Lettuce" which is Claytonia perfoliata. Do either Gail or Bill know if the plant you're referring to as "wild lettuce" is the same thing or different? I hadn't thought to give it to my ducks, and if it's the same thing, I'll try it:
https://www.ediblewildfood.com/miners-lettuce.aspx
 
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The "weeds" that I welcome into my lawn enthusiastically are
Dandelion (roots, roasted, coffee subtitute)
Plantain (salve, soothes itch from insect bites)
Purslane (delicious in salads and more nutritious than spinach)

I use tons of other herbs but they're all either cultivated or introduced on purpose or I have to go elsewhere to forage them. These three counts as weeds in my opinion because they thrive in the lawn, and were both uninvited but also welcome

Maybe spearmint. It's becoming weedy with the way it escaped its container and spread out across the lawn without my permission. It smells so nice when I mow over it.
 
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Lambsquarter.
Never knew it was edible until a few years ago, now I have learned to LOVE it as a spring green.  
Best way is to put some bacon grease in a pan, throw in a bunch of lambsquarter, stir it as it cooks, then finally turn the heat off, put a lid on, and let it finish by steaming.  
My kids freaked grandma out by eating it raw straight out of the garden.  She also did not know it was edible (if she had known, I would have known, as she would have shown me as a child)
 
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Jay Angler wrote:

Gail Gardner wrote:

Bill Ramsey wrote:Wild lettuce is my favorite these days. I do nibble on it but I also let it grow around my trees to attract browsing deer as they walk through.



Now is the best time to eat wild lettuce if you can recognize it. It isn't as bitter when it is little. I've been throwing it to my ducks daily as they love it more than I do. I eat some of it, though.

Here we have what's called "Miner's Lettuce" which is Claytonia perfoliata. Do either Gail or Bill know if the plant you're referring to as "wild lettuce" is the same thing or different? I hadn't thought to give it to my ducks, and if it's the same thing, I'll try it:
https://www.ediblewildfood.com/miners-lettuce.aspx



Miner's lettuce is a different plant, and there are several species in the Lactuca genus growing in North America, from what I understand; L. canadensis, serriola and verosa. The sap is used as a pain reliever but since I'm not sure of the accuracy of what I've read about them, I just eat small amounts while I'm out playing in the garden.  The deer eat a LOT of it, though, and if it's between the pathways and my fruit trees, they are what gets browsed.
 
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My favorite is nettles.  They are so yummy in the spring!  And plantain is so useful and ubiquitous.  

My least favorite is thistles. I think they taste nasty, though the flowers are pretty.  But the worst is that I get slivers in my skin, even when they are dead but they are so tiny, that I can't see them to get them out and they just hurt and hurt. Even a poultice or soaking doesn't get them out sometimes.  They even go through my leather gloves if I grab them the wrong way. I much prefer a big thorn that I can see and pull it out!
 
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