Weeds With Dandelion Like Seeds

Let us help put a name to some of the common weeds growing in your yard and offer a few tips for keeping them under control. Take advantage of weeds in your garden by harvesting them for nutritious treats. Try these purslane recipes, and learn about more edible garden weeds. WeedAlert.com features detailed color photos of over 100 weeds allowing turf professionals to search and identify weeds by name, appearance or region. Detailed information about each weed includes description, non-chemical cultural practices in how to control the weed, geographic coverage maps of where they grow and when they are prevalent in the various growing zones, as well as herbicide use and recommended control products.

Weeds With Dandelion Like Seeds

The ancient Chinese general Sun Tzu famously wrote in the Art of War: “If you know the enemy…you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” When it comes to common weeds, many of us feel like we’ve waged a hundred battles…losing many of them. But maybe that’s because we didn’t know our enemy well enough. So, here’s a list of ten of the most common weeds and some background on how they grow and sprea d . Learning a bit more about each weed can help you pick your battles more wisely.

1. Dandelion

These common weeds with yellow flowers hardly need an introduction—everybody knows them, and everybody has an opinion. Some treasure childhood memories of wishing on dandelion fluff blown into a summer breeze, some anticipate the blankets of dandelion yellow that cover spring meadows, and some dread the hard work it will take to root out these omnipresent weeds—yet again—from their front lawns. Dandelions are perennial weeds spread by seed from spring through fall. They develop deep tap roots that must be dug out completely to eradicate the plant. But before you compost the pulled plants, consider that all parts of the dandelion are edible and are packed with essential vitamins and minerals.

2. Purslane

If you have the annual purslane in your garden, you probably have a lot of it. It’s a low growing succulent that spreads in a circle, quickly filling any empty space. Purslane propagates through seeds, which shoot quite far from the mother plant, as well as from small pieces of the stem and leaves. The seeds of this common weed can lie dormant underground for years before sprouting, which means it can be a multi-year project to banish purslane weeds from your garden. Pull this weed as soon as it comes up and dispose of the plants, (mind you, any weeds pulled with mature seeds on them still have the potential to spread seed near and far as the seeds will continue to drop off the uprooted plants).

3. Chickweed

Chickweed is often the first weed you’ll find in your garden. It loves cold weather and gets a foothold in your beds before other weeds and plants can compete. Chickweed spreads by dispersing thousands of seeds per plant, and those seeds can last up to eight years in the ground, making this annual into a perennial problem for many gardeners .

4. Plantain

Common plantain is a stubborn broadleaf perennial weed that can be quite difficult to eradicate from your garden or lawn. It tends to grow in clumps that, if left unaddressed, will crowd out other more desirable plantings. Plantains spread through seeds dispersed by their flowers – narrow stalks covered with miniscule flowers. Dig out plantains along with their sturdy tap roots when they first appear in the spring. Be careful when cutting lawns with plantains, as your mower can become contaminated with seeds and spread the weeds throughout your grass.

Like it’s cousin, common plantain, the narrowleaf plantain is a persistent perennial weed that spreads quickly through seed . Neither the common plantain nor the narrowleaf plantain is related to the fruit, from the same family as the banana, popular in Central and South American cuisine. That said, narrowleaf plantain leaves have been used for years in folk medicine to treat everything from dysentery to earaches to insect stings.

5. Lambsquarters

Lambsquarters is an annual weed found in gardens around the world. Each plant produces thousands of seeds and several generations can infest your garden in one season. Though lambsquarters will compete for nutrients with your other plants, it’s actually an attractive plant —with delicate silver-dusted leaves, often blushed with purple. Lambsquarters is an edible plant and is grown as an agricultural crop in India and other parts of the world. A member of the same family as spinach, lambsquarters’ leaves can be used raw in salads or in sautés and stir fries—a great alternative to cool-weather greens in the hot summer months.

6. Crabgrass

After dandelions, or maybe even before, crabgrass is one of the most despised garden weeds among homeowners. Though crabgrass is an annual, each plant can produce up to 200,000 seeds, which can survive several years in the soil before germinating. Furthermore, the weed can set roots at stem nodes, meaning cutting it down just encourages more growth. Because crabgrass is a grass, both chemical and nonchemical (salt, vinegar) weed killers will also damage the lawn grass near the targeted weed. The best way to get rid of crabgrass is to dig it out completely.

7. Nutsedge

Another difficult to get rid of lawn and garden weed is nutsedge, a quick growing tall grass that can take over your lawn or garden. Nutsedge is a perennial sedge and spreads through both seeds and its roots, called rhizomes. These grow horizontally under the surface of the soil and can generate multiple new nutsedge plants along the length, forming widespread colonies of the weeds that can last for years. This is another common weed that’s best eliminated by digging it up by the roots.

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8. Creeping Charlie

The perennial weed creeping Charlie, also known as ground ivy, is a close relative of mint and has many of the same invasive properties as that herb. This common lawn weed spreads in shade and partially shaded areas, through seeds, roots (or rhizomes, like nutsedge), and nodes on the stem (like crabgrass). Even a minuscule node left in the clippings after cutting the lawn can set off a creeping Charlie infestation that lasts for years.

9. Yellow Wood Sorrel

As prolific as creeping Charlie, yellow wood sorrel will quickly establish itself in any empty space in the rich soil of your healthiest garden beds. This sorrel propagates itself through seeds, tens of thousands per plant, which readily stick to garden tools, mower blades, clothes, and pets, and through extensive root systems that sprout with new plants along their length. Pull this weed the minute it appears in the spring to have a chance at removing all its roots and discouraging new growth. And if you can’t beat this weed, then you might want to eat it! All parts of yellow wood sorrel are edible. The leaves and flowers make a tangy and attractive addition to salads.

10. Common Ragweed

Common ragweed is a nondescript annual weed found in yards, brush and empty patches of garden. And though this weed looks no different than so many others growing along the edges of roads and in fields, its pollen is the cause of most cases of hay fever—a good reason to learn to identify common ragweed and pull it before it flowers and releases the seeds that perpetuate the weed and the pollen that causes such misery to so many.

Weed seeds often need sunlight to germinate, so once you’ve cleared an area of weeds, mulching is the best way to make sure they won’t return. Read more about how and when to use mulch in your garden.

16 Edible Weeds: Dandelions, Purslane, and More

Weeds are widely believed to be a gardener’s arch-enemy. They stifle crops, steal water, hog sunlight, and create what some deem an eyesore in otherwise impeccably groomed flowerbeds and lawns. They’re not all bad, though: Edible weeds, it turns out, are exceedingly useful.

Instead of burning your abundance of dandelions, chickweed, or wild amaranth—or worse, spraying them with toxic weedkiller—take the zero-waste approach and repurpose them into dandelion tea, amaranth seed polenta, or chickweed pesto.

Here are 16 edible weeds and how to incorporate them into your diet.

Warning

Do not eat any plant unless you have identified it with certainty. Steer clear of plants that grow near roads and railroad tracks and of those that could have been sprayed with garden chemicals.

Understanding Weeds

Though they can ruthlessly invade flower beds and vegetable gardens, weeds are wonderful in other ways. They can be remarkably attractive—particularly the chipper yellow pom-pom blooms of the dandelion and the dainty, daisylike flowers of chickweed—and you have to commend them for their tenacity, as they seem to thrive even in the least hospitable places.

What Are Weeds?

A weed is any wild plant that’s undesirable in its setting—usually a human-controlled setting—whether that be a garden, lawn, farm, or park.

The term “weed” is in itself so relative that its definition is ever-changing. Historically, weeds have been associated with invasive plants, but research within the past couple decades has revealed that many species regarded as weeds today evolved from domestic (i.e., native) ancestors. Their defining quality is, therefore, undesirability: They’re either unpleasant to look at or pose some sort of biological threat.

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

The quintessential weed, dandelions are rich in vitamins A, C, and K. They also contain vitamin E, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and B vitamins. Every part of this flowering herb, from the roots to the bright-yellow blossoms, can be eaten raw or cooked.

Dandelion leaves can be harvested at any point in the growing season, and while the youngest leaves are considered to be less bitter and more palatable raw, the bigger leaves make delightful salad additions. If raw dandelion leaves don’t appeal to you, they can also be steamed or added to a stir-fry or soup, which can make them taste less bitter. The sweet and crunchy flowers can be eaten raw or breaded and fried. Use them to make dandelion wine or syrup. The root of the dandelion can be dried and roasted and used as a coffee substitute or added to any recipe that calls for root vegetables.

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)

Purslane is a heat-loving succulent that has fleshy, jadelike leaves and grows in small clusters low to the ground. It thrives in harsh environments, like in sidewalk cracks and in gravel driveways. The humble garden weed is a nutritional powerhouse, outrageously rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.

Purslane has a sour, salt-and-peppery taste similar to spinach, and it can be used in much the same way as the more mainstream leafy green. Add it to salads, sandwiches, and stir-fry, or use it as a thickener for soups and stews. It has a crispy texture, and the leaves and stems can be eaten raw or cooked. When cooking purslane, be sure to sauté it gently and not for long, as overcooking it can create an unappetizing slimy texture.

Clover (Trifolium)

Clover’s spherical flowers and supposedly lucky leaves are a common food source for honeybees and bumblebees, but they make great additions to human meals, too. There are several types of clover, the most common being red clover (which grows tall) and white clover (which spreads outward). Both are rich in protein, minerals, and carbohydrates.

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Small amounts of raw clover leaves can be chopped into salads or sautéed and added to dishes for a green accent. The flowers of both red and white clover can be eaten raw or cooked, or dried for clover tea.

Lamb’s Quarters (Chenopodium album)

Lamb’s quarters, also known as goosefoot, is loaded with fiber, protein, and vitamins A and C. The plant can grow up to 10 feet—although it normally doesn’t—and produces oval or triangular leaves with serrated edges. One of its most identifiable features is the pop of blue-green at the top of the plant.

Though it has a cabbagelike taste, this weed is commonly used as a replacement for spinach. Its young shoots and leaves can be eaten raw in any vegetable dish, or it can be sautéed or steamed and used anywhere spinach would be used. Its seeds, which resemble quinoa, can be harvested and eaten, although it takes a lot of patience to gather enough to make it worthwhile as a main dish.

Plantain (Plantago)

Not to be confused with the tropical fruit of the same name, this common weed is made up of a nutritious mix of minerals, fatty acids, vitamin C, carotenes (antioxidants), nitrate, and oxalic acid. Plantain can be identified by its large, oval leaves that surround tall spikes sometimes covered in white flowers.

The young leaves of the plantain can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, or sautéed, and while the older leaves can be a bit tough, they can also be cooked and eaten. The seeds of the plantain, which are produced on the distinctive flower spike, can be cooked like a grain or ground into flour. Check with your doctor before consuming plantain while pregnant.

Chickweed (Stellaria media)

Chickweed is a broadleaf weed belonging to the carnation family. It has small, white flowers, each containing five split petals (appearing as 10 petals), and it grows in clusters on hairy stalks. Chickweed is a resilient plant that may appear on roadsides or riverbanks and can thrive in just about any soil type. It’s rich in vitamins A and C and contains about as much calcium as dandelions.

Chickweed leaves, stems, and flowers can all be eaten either raw—added to sandwiches and salads or ground into a pesto—or cooked. The plant has a grassy, spinachlike taste.

Warning

Chickweed can look very similar to radium weed, a poisonous plant that grows in similar conditions, so consult an experienced forager before picking and consuming chickweed.

Mallow (Malva)

Mallow, or malva, is also known as cheeseweed because its seed pods resemble a wheel of cheese. It shares a family with cotton, okra, and hibiscus, and apart from its distinguishing seed pods—also called “nutlets”—you can identify it by its funnel-shaped flowers, each with five petals and a column of stamens surrounding a pistil. This hardy plant can grow almost anywhere—even in harsh, dry soil conditions.

Mallow’s leaves, flowers, and seed pods can be eaten raw or cooked. Both the leaves and flowers have a very mild taste that’s often more tender and palatable in juvenile plants. Older leaves and flowers are best steamed, boiled, or sautéed. Mallow is high in vitamins A and C, protein, and carotenoids.

Wild Amaranth (Amaranthus)

Wild amaranth—or “pigweed”—leaves are another great addition to any dish that calls for leafy greens. While the younger leaves are softer and tastier, the older leaves can also be cooked like spinach.

Displaying either green or red leaves and small, green flowers in dense clusters at the top of the plant, wild amaranth has been cultivated since ancient times. The Romans and Aztecs reportedly regarded it as a staple food.

Wild amaranth seeds can also be gathered and cooked just like store-bought amaranth, either as a cooked whole grain or as a ground meal. It does take a bit of time to gather enough seeds to make a meal of them, but it’s worth the work, as they’re packed with 16% protein.

Curly Dock (Rumex crispus)

Curly dock is an oft-overlooked plant that has slender, rigid leaves and tall flower spikes packed with flowers and seeds. The plant contains more vitamin C than oranges, which means it’s also high in oxalic acid. Consuming more than 200 milligrams of vitamin C per day could lead to a buildup of oxalate in your kidneys.

The leaves can be eaten raw when young, or cooked and added to soups when older. In younger plants, foliage is less curly and leaves are round and broad. Mature plants develop stems whereas leaves emerge right from the root when young.

The leaves taste tart and spinachlike. Because of their high oxalic acid content, it’s often recommended to change the water several times during cooking. Newly-emerged stems can be peeled and eaten either cooked or raw, and the mature seeds can be boiled, eaten raw, or roasted to make a coffee substitute.

Wild Garlic (Allium ursinum)

Wild garlic is ubiquitous throughout Europe, but this favorite foraging find is also widespread among the damp woodlands of the eastern U.S. and Canada. It’s so abundant, in fact, that the U.S. Department of Agriculture considers it a “noxious weed,” or one that could be harmful to the environment or animals. It’s not, however, harmful to humans, who typically love stumbling upon a blanket of its signature long, pointed leaves and white flowers sprawled beneath the trees.

Wild garlic tastes like garlic, of course, only grassier. The flavor is milder than the pungent aroma these plants put off (you’ll probably smell them before you see them). Every part of the plant is edible, from the bulbs to the seed heads. You can grind it into a pesto, add it raw to salads and sandwiches for a tangy kick, or sauté it and eat it plain. Wild garlic is higher in magnesium, manganese, and iron than bulb garlic.

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Violet (Viola sororia)

Known for their heart-shaped leaves and delightful purple flowers that cover forest floors and stream banks come spring, wild violets are also called “sweet violets” on account of their sugary flavor. They’re often candied and used to decorate baked goods, turned into jam, made into syrups, brewed as a tea, or used as a garnish in salads. Both the leaves and flowers are edible and rich in vitamin C, but the roots and seeds are poisonous.

Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta)

A common winter weed in warm and mild regions of the U.S., hairy bittercress is a low-growing rosette that produces white, four-petaled spring flowers on a tall stem. The plant is part of the mustard family and has a sharp, peppery flavor similar to mustard greens or arugula.

It’s best eaten raw, either as a salad green or mixed into salsas and pestos, because cooking it can remove much of its flavor. Hairy bittercress leaves, seeds, and flowers can all be eaten, but the leaves are said to be the tastiest.

Hairy bittercress, like other plants in the mustard family, is high in antioxidants, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and beta-carotene.

Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

Garlic mustard is a highly invasive herb that has spread throughout much of North America since being introduced by European settlers in the 1800s. Every part of the plant—leaves, flowers, seeds, and stems—can be eaten, but harvesting them can be tricky.

Garlic mustard should be harvested while young because the shoots harden after a couple of years. They should be avoided in the summer, too, as the heat makes them taste bitter. Any other time, it has a spicy flavor similar to horseradish. It’s great as a chimichurri or a pesto—and it’s abundant in nutritional value. It’s high in fiber, vitamins A and C, potassium, calcium, magnesium, selenium, copper, iron, manganese, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Japanese Knotweed (Reynoutria japonica)

This highly invasive terrorizer of homes and gardens can be found throughout the Northeast and parts of the Northwest. It has heart-shaped leaves and produces little, white flower tassels in the summertime. It’s often compared to bamboo—partly because of its hollow shoots and partly because it, too, can grow up to 10 feet tall.

Despite its unfavorable reputation, it’s quite nutritious and tasty. The tart, crunchy, and juicy stems are often compared to rhubarb and turned into pie or chutney. Japanese knotweed is rich in antioxidants, vitamins A and C, manganese, zinc, and potassium.

This plant should be harvested while young, when the leaves are slightly rolled up and have red veins as opposed to being flat and green. Knotweed near roads should be avoided as it is often covered in herbicides. It would also be wise to incinerate scraps rather than composting them to prevent them from sprouting.

Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)

Stinging nettle, as its name suggests, “stings” by piercing skin with its hollow, needlelike hairs. As it makes contact, those hairs transmit chemicals to skin, causing an uncomfortable sensation and sometimes a rash. In other words, it’s not the first plant you’d think to reach for if you were hungry.

Nonetheless, stinging nettle is not only edible but also nutritious and tasty. It must be cooked or dried first—don’t attempt to eat the “stinging” leaves raw—but when prepared, it’s entirely harmless and tastes like tangy spinach. You can sauté stinging nettles, blend them into a soup, throw them on a pizza, or incorporate them into a dip. Stinging nettles, identifiable by their aggressive-looking hairs, are a great source of vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, sodium, and fatty acids. They should be harvested before they flower in late spring.

Sourgrass (Oxalis stricta)

Sourgrass is sometimes called lemon clover because it boasts a refreshing citrusy flavor. It’s commonly found growing in open meadows, lawns, and fields, or occasionally sprouting from sidewalk cracks. The most distinguishing feature of sourgrass is its three-season display of dainty, yellow blooms.

Without its signature sunshiny flowers, it looks a lot like clover. The difference is in the shape of the leaves: clover is oval-shaped and sourgrass is heart-shaped.

Lemon clover tastes sour and tart. It’s primarily eaten raw as an addition to salads, salsas, ceviche, sauces, and seasonings. It also makes a pretty and delicious seafood garnish. Sourgrass is high in vitamin C and oxalic acid, both of which could disrupt digestion if consumed in high doses, so this plant should be eaten only in small amounts.

Weeds With Dandelion Like Seeds

False dandelion is a summer perennial that can grow up to two feet tall on branching stems, although they will not reach this height in mowed turf areas. The lobed hairy leaves are 2- to 8-inches long, and grow in a basal rosette. The leaves have a prominent mid vein and grow flat on the ground. The flowers of false dandelion are yellow, resembling a typical dandelion. The flowers are 1-inch across and appear singly at the ends of long stems. False dandelion reproduces from seeds which have the same appearance as common dandelion. False dandelion is usually found where soils are sandy or gravelly. It is very common on the west coast and locally common in eastern Canada and the northeastern and central United States.

Weed Photos: Courtesy of Dr. Lambert McCarty . Clemson University. Clemson, SC.

Herbicide Use

Make your post-emergence herbicide application to false dandelion that is actively growing and in the rosette to flower stage of growth.