MOMs is in full-obsession mode this week over dandelions – and we have every reason to be. We, Americans in particular, are choking our ground water with fertilizers and drying out our clean water resources to try to give grass the leg up on dandelions in our yards. And, frankly, grass isn’t a great friend to our soil (check out clover for soil replenishment).
Dandelion greens are tender, tasty greens with bite, and dandelion root is a great herbal tea for internal cleansing and detoxification, AND its good for your soil! An earlier commenter pointed out that dandelions are favorites of bees, and pleasing bees is a very good thing!
However, keep in mind there are several weeds in your yard that are tasty and nutritious: some very common ones are Ground Ivy [Glechoma hederacea], Common Plantain [Plantago major], and Lambs Quarter [Chenopodium berlandieri].
My great-grandmother would stop and pull lambs quarter from between the sidewalk cracks and gather it up and steam the leaves or toss them with lettuce in the dinner salad, and that story persisted in the family for years. It was one of the first plants I could identify on my own and surely you’ve seen it too.
I learned about the former two edible weeds when MOMs Wellness staff went on an herb walk with the renowned herbalist Christopher Hobbs. After the tour, we went out to the road to wait for our bus, which was running late. Dr Hobbs leaned down and pulled Plantago Major leaves from the side of the road and explained that it was tasty in the raw in its early leaf stages (steam or blanch the more mature leaves and try to remove the “strings” that run through it for the best texture), and it is the source of the psyllium seed fiber that we sell. The entire plant can be eaten, in a variety of ways, and its quite nutritious, like most dark leafy greens.
Dr Hobbs then plucked some ground ivy, little leaves with scalloped edges growing on dainty short stems (not the invasive English ivy that grows all over college buildings), and explained that it is a good source of iron and vitamin C.
So, if the food apocalypse arrives, those of us with mixed-population lawns will be sitting pretty. And don’t forget about the chicory, bee balm, cow slip, redbud, elder and clover! All can be put to good use in the kitchen (or medicine cabinet). Bon Appetit!
Save the Dandelions with MOMs, bring your lawn chemicals in for safe disposal March 15-23!
Alyssa works at multiple MOMs locations.