The Edible Weeds Among Us - University of Idaho Extension

Common edibles found in the backyard garden and other
Not so wilderness areas.
 Native plants are plants that have the origination in
the geographical area described. Though they may
have spread and adapted to other areas or zones.
 Local plants are plants that thrive in, and can be found
growing in a particular area regardless of the plants
place of origin.
 For this course we will focus on local plants as many of
the edible plants in our area are not natives though the
definitely thrive here.
 Will identify which ones are truly natives to this area.
 Edible does not necessarily mean tasty.
 Wild edibles come with a wide variety of flavors and
textures that have been absent in our diet for a long
 Some of the characteristics can be more intense with
wild edibles such as
 Bitter
 Sour
 Texture
 Smell
 Arial parts
 Roots, rhizomes, or bulbs
 Barks
 Seeds
 I am not a botanist.
 You take the responsibility upon yourselves to properly
identify plants.
Plants that have potentially toxic look-a-likes will be
Some plants have edible parts AND toxic parts.
Some plants are edible, but only when prepared
Seek out further instruction and reference materials.
 Stout, hairless perennial
from a yellow tap root.
1 – 5 feet tall.
Leaves are alternate,
lance to oblong shaped
and have wavy margins.
Flowers on green spikes
with single seeded fruit.
Seeds have 3 angled
heart shaped bracts.
 Leaves can be used in
small amounts and have
a slight sour and lemony
 Young leaves are best and
make a good spring
 Contains oxalic acid, and
should be cooked though
raw is alright too.
 Branching, low
 Leaves and young shoots
spreading, succulent
 To 1 foot
 Leaves alternate and
spatula shaped, smooth
and shiny. Tips rounded.
 Flowers yellow and stalk
are edible raw or
 Many people pickle the
 Has a nice tangy taste
with a peppery kick.
 Has the highest
concentration of omega3 fatty acids out of any
other green plant.
 Perennial from creeping,
 Rhizomes are dug and
tuberous rhizome, with
pithy stems that are unbranched.
 Up to 10 feet.
 Sword like leaves, light
green and 1 inch at base.
 Tiny flowers in long
dense cylinder at stem
cooked to eat like potato.
Must be cooked if picked
during or after flowering.
 Base of stalks can be
pulled from crown and
used like asparagus or
celery. Best if steamed or
 New seed heads can be
eaten like corn on the
 Hairless perennial from
 Whole plant edible.
stout tap root. Milky sap.  Young leaves are best
 Leaves in a basal rosette
raw, cook the older ones
of oblong to oblanceolate
like spinach or put in
leaves, deeply lobed and
 Blanched crown tops are
 Familiar flowers in
excellent sautéed or
solitary head on hollow,
battered and fried.
leafless stem
 Young root can be
roasted like potato.
 Weedy annual
 Young leaves and
 Leaves alternate and
delicious and mild fresh
in salads or smoothies.
 Greens excellent sautéed
or prepared like spinach.
 Seeds and bracts can be
used in gumbos as
substitute for okra. Can
be eaten fresh as well.
 High in mucilage and
can be a little slimy
shallowly palmate, 5-7
lobes, margins are
 Flowers small and pink
to white with petals
notched on tips
 Seeds in cheese like
wheels covered by bracts.
 Hairless perennial.
 Young leaves are good
 Up to 18 inches.
raw in salads, smoothies,
or on sandwiches.
 Older leaves should be
cooked or steamed as
they tend to be more
bitter and tougher in
 Leaves broadly oval in
basal rosettes with
prominent parallel veins
converging at base. Bases
rounded at thickened
stalks margin wavy.
 Flowers dense in
elongated spikes.
 Large leaved biennial.
 Young roots used as a stir
 2-9 feet.
fry vegetable in Japan.
 Young roots can be
cooked like potato.
 Stalks and large leaf
petioles can be pealed
and eaten fresh or
 Leaves large rhubarb
like, widely ovate, on
long petioles. White and
wooly below stalk is solid
and celery like.
 Seed enclosed in burr
like head with hooked
 Deciduous shrub often
lacking a main trunk.
Up to 25 feet.
Leaves are pinnately
compound with 3-9 leaflets
ecliptic to ovate. Tips
pointed and midrib often
Creamy white flowers in
flat top clusters.
Berries appear blue but are
nearly black and covered
with a fine wax.
 Ripe berries are used for
jams, syrups and wines.
 Must be cooked or may be
 Contains cyanide
compounds and must be
heated to remove and
destroy harmful
 All parts of plant are toxic
except fruits and flowers
when prepared correctly.
 Upright annual, grows
upright until before
 Leaves are alternate,
roughly diamond shaped
and roughly toothed. Waxy
and mealy in appearance,
white underneath.
 Flowers are white to
creamy, are small and
radially symmetrical on
dense cymes.
 Young shoots with leaves
and steamed or cooked.
Young leaves cooked like
Shoots can be pealed and
used like asparagus.
Contains oxalic acid
Seeds can be used as flour
substitute, or in a mush or
hot cereal.
Older plants have strong
undesirable flavor.
 Deciduous shrub, upright.
 Fruits are delicious and tart
Stems smooth an without
thorns or hair.
 Leaves, light green with
shallowly 3- lobed, lobes
 Yellow tubular flowers, five
parted with “spicy”
 Yellow to orange to red
raw. Can be used for
jellies, jams and syrups.
 High in vitamin C.
 Easy to domesticate and
bring home to the garden
and domesticate for further
production over the years.
 Perennial with stiff,
 Leaves can be picked and
stinging hairs, forming
 Leaves opposite and
mostly ovate, on angled
stems, margins coarsely
 Flowers tiny, and
greenish in drooping
boiled like spinach
 Heat or drying
evaporates the stinging
 Used in soups and as
other spring greens.
 Upright coarse weed.
 Leaves eaten raw in
 Leaves opposite and
ovate deeply veined.
Green to light green.
 Flowers on elongates
spike that are bristly and
may droop.
salads , or boiled or
steamed like spinach.
 Seeds used like grain and
used as such.
 High in vitamins and has
been used as a food plant
for thousands of years.
 Deciduous shrub, stems
 Hips can be used year
slender with straight
 Leaves pinnately
compound with 5-7 widely
oval, hairless leaflets.
Margins with gland tipped
 Flowers pink to rose.
 Hips round and red to
orange without sepal
round for food.
 Seeds must be scraped out
and then they can be
boiled for tea or pounded
and dried like any other
dried fruit.
 High in vitamin C and
other beneficial vitamins.
 Evergreen upright or
2-10 feet.
Inner bark and roots bright
Leave pinnately
compound, leathery and
holly like 5- 11 leaflets, flat
and oblong with spine
tipped teeth.
Flowers yellow at branch
Berries blue to purple
covered with whitish film
 Berries used for fresh
eating. Though can be sour
and astringent.
 Used for juices, jams,
jellies, and syrups and
 Plants included here are a some of the most easily
identified and used native and local plants.
 This list is in no way exhaustive, and further research
can show a plethora of useful plants available in your
own back yard.
Simpler offers a wide variety of services, including
garden consulting, where Simpler Sam can visit your
property and show you the edible and medicinal plants
growing right under your nose, that you may have
disregarded as weeds or other undesirables. These
consultations include information on identification
and the use of the plants identified.

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