Weeds are often thought of as undesirable, but some of them happen to be superfoods, packed with nutrients we all need. It is VERY IMPORTANT however, that you identify weeds carefully before eating them.
The golden rules for enjoying wild edibles responsibly are:
- If you donʼt know what it is donʼt eat it. Learn to identify plants that are edible and get to know those that are poisonous. The best way is learning from a local expert. Second best is from books and the internet. Be curious about new plants – examine them, smell them, look at where they grow and what grows around them.
- Know plants at different growth stages. Plants can change when they flower – seeing it in flower you know it for the next year and can pick it at it’s most edible stage (e.g. young, leafy, once flowering all the energy goes up into the flowers and then seeds. Flowers and seeds can be very nutritious too.
- Know what places plants like to grow. If you find something similar but growing in the wrong place, it can be a warning.
- Make sure the plants you harvest are not sprayed or from contaminated soil or water (liver fluke), or where pets toilet as we can catch parasites from animals.
- Sample new edibles in small amounts to start with, chewing between your two front teeth, if you have no adverse affect after some time, a little more can be eaten.
- Get permission from landowners before foraging.
- Don’t forage for mushrooms unless you are with an expert. Identifying fungi is a specialist topic.
- Respect the plants. Ask their permission to pick them. You can offer your thanks in return. Just take enough so that you don’t wipe out a population.
These are some of the most common edible weeds found in New Zealand and many other countries:
Click on the links for detailed information. See photos below.
Amaranth, Green or Purple
Clover, Red and White
Dove’s Foot Geranium
Lambsquarters or Magenta spreen
Red Dead Nettle
Sow Thistle, Milk Thistle or Puha
Click on any image below to view larger size.