15 Edible Weeds That Grow in Your Garden and Yard

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Did you know many edible weeds are growing in your yard and garden? You probably already have several growing around your house. These weeds provide a nutritious food source, even though some consider them pests. You might not think of unwanted plants for a healthy meal, but it’s possible.

I’ve compiled a list of 15 of the best edible weeds you can easily find growing in your garden and lawn. Many common weeds are packed with vitamins and minerals. They can be a great addition to your diet — some taste surprisingly good!

7 Key Takeaways on Edible Weeds

  1. Chicory has edible flowers and leaves that can be used in salads or as a coffee substitute.
  2. Dandelion leaves and buds are great for salads, and the roots can be also used as a coffee substitute.
  3. Ground Ivy should be used sparingly due to its strong flavor, making it great in salads and seasoning.
  4. Common Blue Violet has edible leaves and flowers, but avoid the roots to prevent intestinal issues.
  5. Hairy Bittercress has tender leaves perfect for salads and sauces with a light mustard flavor.
  6. Nettles must be boiled to remove stings. They are rich in proteins and vitamins, making them great for soups and purées.
  7. Purslane’s succulent leaves are tangy and nutritious, with a high content of omega-3 fatty acids.

What Are the Most Common Edible Weeds?

Many edible weeds might already be growing in your garden bed. These common plants are often overlooked but can be a great source of nutrition. They are easy to find and can add variety to your meals. Let’s explore some of them!

1. Chicory (Cichorium intybus) — Makes for Great Salad and Coffee Substitute

A cluster of vibrant purple chicory flowers in full bloom, standing against a lush meadow.

Chicory is a weed in most of North America, Europe, and Asia. It can be found in old fields, waste areas, weedy lots, and roads.

Chicory can grow up to 6 feet tall. It is one of the most well-known wild edible weeds, as its sky-blue flowers make it easy to identify. The leaf resembles other wild edible plants, such as the dandelion. 

All parts of the chicory plant are edible. Although the entire plant’s leaves and flowers can be eaten raw as a salad green, the leaves are also very bitter. Consider mixing them with other more palatable plants or cooking them to reduce bitterness. The chicory roots can be roasted and ground down as a coffee substitute.

Chicory is very low in calories and high in fibers. It also contains calcium, manganese, copper, iron, and potassium minerals. It is a good source of vitamins, particularly vitamins A, C, K, carotenoids, and folic acid.

2. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) — Vitamin-Rich Coffee Alternative

Close-up of a single dandelion seed head with white, fluffy seeds against a backdrop of lush green grass.

Dandelions are very common weeds throughout the Northern Hemisphere. These wild greens will grow in open, sunny areas.

The dandelion leaves, and unopened flower buds can be eaten as a salad or boiled for a few minutes. They have a slightly tangy and bitter taste. The roots are also edible after being boiled. They can also be used as a coffee substitute or added to any recipe that uses root vegetables.

The yellow flowers and leaves make up a very nutritious plant. The greens are an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K. They are also rich in iron, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. The plant is full of antioxidants, mainly found in its beautiful flowers.

3. Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea) — Iron and Potassium-Rich Weed Similar to Basil and Sage

A cluster of ground ivy plants with green, serrated leaves and small, delicate purple flowers in full bloom.

Ground ivy, or gill-over-the-ground, is an invasive plant native to Europe and is now common all over the United States. It prefers shaded areas but can also thrive in full sun. It can form wide mats as it propagates by stolons along the ground and can be easily found in lawns and gardens.

Ground ivy is closely related to mint but lacks the characteristic flavor. Instead, its taste is a bit of a mix of basil and sage and is very strong. For this reason, it’s best to use it sparingly and mix it with other greens when eaten raw. Ground ivy can also be cooked or dried and used as seasoning.

The best ground ivy leaves to harvest are the young ones, which are more tender and milder in flavor. Ground ivy is an excellent iron, potassium, and vitamin C source.

4. Common Blue Violet (Viola sororia) — Mild Flavored With Many Uses

Several vibrant common blue violet flowers with green leaves in the background.

The common blue violet is common in central and eastern North America and can be easily found in lawns, parks, and abandoned lots. It can be difficult to identify, as it is very variable and similar to other species of Viola. However, exact identification is not a problem since the other violets are also edible.

The common blue violet leaves and dainty flowers are both edible. On the other hand, the roots should be avoided because they can cause intestinal problems. Violets don’t taste particularly strong, but they have many uses.

The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked like any other green vegetable. The purple flowers are perfect for adding color to dishes or making candies. Violets are rich in vitamins A and C.

5. Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) — Great for Salads and Sandwiches

A small cluster of hairy bittercress with slender stems and small white flowers grows amidst a grass-covered area.

Hairy bittercress is common in gardens and yards throughout the southern and eastern United States and the West Coast. It also grows near streams, as it thrives on wet soil. It’s a winter green that prefers cool weather.

Hairy bittercress weed leaves are soft and tender, perfect for eating raw in salads or sandwiches. They can also be used to make pesto or sauce. The roots are also edible, which can be blended with vinegar to make a condiment.

Hairy bittercress is rich in vitamin C and beta-carotene. Its taste is a cross between cress and rocket, also described as a light mustard flavor. The taste is often compared to the mustard green.

6. Nettle (Urtica dioica) — Nutrient-Packed Weed You Can Make Into a Beverage

A green nettle plant with jagged, pointed leaves and serrated edges, growing in a lush garden.

Stinging nettle, or simply nettle, is widespread in Central and North America. It thrives in moist, disturbed areas. Nettle must be picked with gloves because of its irritating bristles, but the taste is worth the hassle. The young spring leaves are the best to pick, as they are the most tender.

Boiling nettle removes the irritating substances so that the greens can be enjoyed as they are or made into a purée. The boiling water can be used for soups or to make a beverage, adding sugar and lemon.

Stinging nettle is an excellent source of proteins, as it contains all of the essential amino acids. It also contains vitamins A and C, minerals, and antioxidants.

7. Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) — Ideal for Mixed Salads

A close-up image of leafy green ground cover with small, vibrant yellow purslane flowers in bloom.

Purslane is a common garden weed. Its flashy stems and succulent leaves, often reddish-purple, make it easy to identify. It grows flat on the ground and forms extensive mats that can cause problems when it infests farmed fields.

Purslane’s raw shoots taste fresh and tangy and are perfect raw in a mixed salad. Their mild taste helps balance the stronger flavors of many other weed species when mixed. Purslane is said to be one of the tastiest weeds, both raw and cooked. 

Purslane is very nutritious, and one of its best qualities is its high content of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.

8. Sheep’s Sorrel (Rumex acetosella) — Can Be Eaten Raw, Cooked, or Drank as Herbal Tea

Close-up of numerous sheep sorrel stems in a lush green field.

Sheep sorrel can be found in gardens and abandoned fields in North America and Europe. It prefers dry, acidic soil. Look for its arrow-shaped leaves that have variegated edges. It’s related to many species of dock, such as curled dock, but sheep sorrel has the most distinctive sour taste. 

Sheep sorrel leaves are excellent to chew on during a hike, as they relieve thirst. They can also be eaten as a salad, cooked with other greens, or boiled to make herbal tea. Sheep sorrel is a good source of vitamin C, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, and zinc.

9. Curled Dock (Rumex crispus) — Perfect for a Vitamin C-Rich Salad

Close-up image of a clusters of curled dock flowers with a soft-focus, neutral background.

The curled dock herb is also called sour dock or yellow dock. It is very large and is related to sheep sorrel, which shares the sour, tangy flavor. The leaves are wider and tougher than their relatives, so harvesting the younger ones is best. You can also pick the leaves in late winter when they get slightly yellow and red.

The curled dock’s young leaves can be eaten raw in a salad or boiled for about 10 minutes, while the older ones take longer to remove the bitterness. The young cooked leaves become tender and taste like beet greens.

Curled dock is very nutritious. It’s a good source of vitamin B1, vitamin B2, and iron. Also, it’s richer than carrots in vitamin A and contains more vitamin C than oranges.

10. Crabgrass (Digitaria species) — Makes for Good Flour and Couscous

A clump of crab grass with long, thin blades is growing in a patch of mostly bare soil.

There are two main species of crabgrass in the US: large crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis) and southern crabgrass (Digitaria ciliaris). Both flourish in disturbed open areas and are considered invasive plants, as they are very fast-growing and can supplant cultivated crops.

Nowadays, crabgrass is mostly used as animal feed. In the past, though, it was cultivated for food and still is in some parts of the world. Its seeds can be harvested and ground into flour or used to make couscous.

This grass is very nutritious, and in traditional medicine, it is used to treat cataracts and gonorrhea.

11. Plantain (Plantago species) — Nutty-Tasting With Vitamins and Minerals

A cluster of plantain plants in a garden, displaying their tall, slender green stalks topped with small, cylindrical flower heads.

Plantain is among the most common weeds worldwide, especially in temperate zones. It’s widespread on lawns and roadsides. There are two main species: Plantago lanceolata, with long leaves, and Plantago major, with long ones. Both of them are edible.

Plantain leaves can be eaten raw or boiled. It’s best to use the young leaves, picked before the flowering stalk grows. The older leaves can also be consumed but are slightly bitter and tough to chew. The taste and consistency improve with cooking.

The leaves also make an excellent pesto when crushed and seasoned. The seeds can be dried and ground into flour with a nutty taste. Plantain is a good source of vitamins and minerals and reputed to have medicinal uses.

12. Chickweed (Stellaria media) — Mild Flavored With Tender Leaves and Stems

A field filled with numerous chickweed flowers blooming, with green grass and stems visible beneath them.

Chickweeds are winter greens native to Europe but are now naturalized in most cold-temperature areas, including the United States. It’s a common weed in yards, woodlands, and among cultivated plants. It’s tiny and grows sprawled on the ground.

Chickweed should be picked young when not blooming. This edible weed enjoys cool weather and is best harvested in late spring and fall. Pull up whole plants in clumps for a reasonable harvest and keep the most tender leaves and stems. 

When young and fresh, chickweed is very tender and mild in flavor. It’s perfect to eat raw in salads, either by itself or mixed with other tastier greens. It can also be boiled for a few minutes because it would otherwise turn mush. It is also known for its medicinal properties.

Chickweed is Food and Your Health Ally

13. Lamb’s Quarters (Chenopodium album) — Spinach-Like Weeds for Salads and Baking

Close-up of a Lamb's quarter plant with green leaves and stalks bearing clusters of small, light-green flowers.

Lamb’s quarters is one of the most widespread weeds in yards, disturbed sites, and roadsides. It can grow very tall, but it’s best to harvest plants not above 10 inches. You can also pick the youngest stems from taller plants, which should be tender enough.

The lamb’s quarters toothed leaves and stems can be eaten raw in a salad or boiled for about 5 minutes. Their mild, spinach-like flavor makes them one of the best-tasting weeds. The seeds produced in autumn can also be gathered to make black flour, a great addition to white flour in baking products. 

This plant is very nutritious and rich in vitamins A and C. However, attention must be paid when harvesting, as similar plants of the Chenopodium genus can be toxic.

14. Pokeweed (Phytolacca Americana) — Great for Pickled Weed

A pokeweed plant with clusters of bright purple berries among large green leaves.

Pokeweed is common on the margins of woods and roadsides but can also be found along fences. It’s a perennial herb identifiable by the unpleasant smell given out by the stems when broken.

The pokeweed plant’s young shoots grow next to the previous year’s stalks. These young shoots are the only edible part of the plant. The root is toxic, so it should be avoided at all costs. Also, avoid the older stalks and any shoots with a purple coloring.

Pokeweed is best to eat when its young spring shoots are tender and can be easily snapped off. It cannot be eaten raw but needs to be boiled, taking care of changing the water a couple of times. Cooked shoots can also be peeled and pickled. This plant’s taste is similar to spinach.

15. Black Mustard (Brassica nigra) — Hot and Spicy Seeds for Seasoning or Mustard Making

Black mustard flowers against a blurred natural background. The flowers, composed of small petals, are spread across green stems.

Black mustard is an annual herb native to Europe that is now very common in yards and fields throughout Northern America. It should be picked when young in the spring; otherwise, the greens become bitter. However, it can still be harvested later, removing the bitterness by blanching the leaves.

Black mustard flowers and buds can be picked until almost all are open. The young and blanched leaves can be eaten raw in salads, while older greens must be boiled for 30 minutes. They should be boiled for a few minutes, changing the water once.

The seeds are also edible and taste hot and spicy. They can be used as salad seasoning or to make mustard. Black mustard weed contains vitamins A, B, and C.

Edible Weeds in Your Yard Final Thoughts

These 15 edible weeds growing in your garden and yard are easy to identify and can provide you with some tasty treats. Incorporating these common plants into your diet can be a fun and nutritious way to use what nature offers.

From the vitamin-rich dandelion, which can be used as a coffee substitute, to the hot and spicy black mustard seeds, these weeds offer many surprises.

Next time you see a weed in your garden bed, consider adding it to your meal instead of pulling it out. Happy foraging!

If you want to learn more about how to identify other types of edible wild plants, check out these guides:

Fast Growing Trees and Plants

Photo of author

Written by:

Denise Davis
Denise Davis is an avid gardener, deeply rooted in growing organic veggies and crafting homemade fertilizers. She cherishes the earthy essence of composting and the continuous learning that gardening provides. Denise sees gardening as a holistic activity, offering physical and mental benefits alongside the joy of consuming what you cultivate. Her passion is to inspire others to embrace gardening as a rewarding, healthful lifestyle.

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