How to Identify Edible Weeds by Pictures


Edible weeds grow in abundance throughout North America, with over 100 different kinds in the United States. Many people view weeds as nuisance plants, seeking to remove them from gardens; however, many weeds can be harvested for use in soups or salads. These weeds boast a number of health benefits: dandelions have been used to cleanse the liver, while burdock contains lignan compounds, which may prevent cancer. Many edible weeds are rich in antioxidants, including purslane, which is found in 50 States and in Canada. Learn to identify these misunderstood plants, and forage for food in your own backyard.

Things You'll Need

  • Pocket guide with pictures
  • Pictures printed from Internet (optional)
  • Guide (optional)
  • Obtain a small pocket book to carry with you to use as a reference while foraging. A small reference book will provide you with pictures to refer to while out hunting for edible weeds.

  • Consider beforehand what weeds you might look for. Study the pictures ahead of time, and review the descriptions of the weed as well as any cautions or dangers identified by the author.

  • Start by comparing weeds in your backyard or by walking a path in a nearby park. Carefully compare the picture with the weed you find. Do not harvest for use initially; simply gain experience identifying edible weeds. Review with a knowledgeable friend or guide prior to consuming if you do choose to harvest the weed. It is dangerous to go "grazing" on your own in the forest if you are inexperienced, as there are many poisonous weeds that could be harmful to consume or handle.

  • Sign up for a walking tour with a guide who is familiar with edible weeds and can teach you the basics, such as "Wildman" Steve Brill, who offers programming throughout the northeastern United States. If you are looking for programs in your area, try contacting your local parks office or a naturopath for references on reputable guides or field courses. You may also check with your local horticultural society.


  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images
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