Edible weeds are all around us, often unassuming, always resilient, humble, and beneficial. These 12 edible and medicinal backyard weeds are easy to forage for, as most are wild plants you have likely seen your whole life without realizing how amazing they are. Learn and benefit from these wild-growing, strong, nutritious, edible, and medicinal weeds!
If you want to learn more about the edible and medicinal weeds that surround us and how to use them, check out my eBook: Wildcrafting Weeds: 20 Easy to Forage Edible and Medicinal Plants (that might be growing in your backyard)!
Gather & Root Online Foraging Course
My online foraging course is a great way to learn about wild edible and medicinal plants! Learn more about the gather + root online foraging course here.
Edible Backyard Weeds
Weeds are all around us! Very often, common weeds are edible and medicinal and benefit us in ways that most people may not know about.
Although long seen as a nuisance by gardeners wanting perfect lawns and landscapes, edible weeds are amazing and beneficial for us in a variety of ways. They are persistent, resilient, and perhaps grow a little wild without looking perfectly contained.
But how wonderful to have plants that grow without maintenance and can be eaten and used medicinally?
Plus, aren’t we all a bit wild, thorny, and not perfect at times? Weeds have so much value, and don’t deserve the bad reputation they have!
Related: What to Forage in Spring: 20 Edible and Medicinal Plants and Fungi
Dandelions are a perfect example of an edible weed that is super easy to find, identify, and use. They are beneficial in a wide variety of ways, and the whole plant can be used from flowers, leaves, to roots!
Dandelions are also a perfect example of a beneficial edible weed that often people are trying to get rid of, and will even use harmful chemicals to do so.
However, what people often don’t know is how healing and beneficial dandelions are. I say let them grow in your grass, and wherever they may seed!
The closer they are to your door, the better! Step outside, and forage some dandelions for your health.
Dandelions are edible and medicinal. They benefit the body in a multitude of ways, and there are so many recipes that use dandelions to their full potential.
There are only so many plants that can be used from flower to root (dandelion root that is), and dandelion is a champion, bold and humble!
Wild violets are edible and medicinal, and you have likely seen them in your backyard or nearby during the weeks of early spring. The flowers are dainty and will grow in wooded areas, in your side yard, or even in cracks of concrete.
Small but mighty, wild violets are easy to forage for. They don’t need anything from us and will grow in almost any circumstance. Yet they benefit us at the same time. They are givers!
Once you identify and harvest some wild violets, you can use this delicious edible weed to make this wild violet flower infused vinegar. It is perfect for use in salads and drinks, and can also be used medicinally.
Another wonderful way to use wild violet flowers is making this DIY wild violet soap. Violet flowers have many vitamins and minerals, and vitamins A, C, & E are especially good and soothing for our skin. Making this soap is a fun way to celebrate spring’s return!
Chickweed is an extremely nutritious edible weed that grows readily almost everywhere, so you’re sure to have some growing nearby. Possibly even in your own yard!
Foraging chickweed tends to be easy since it is so common, simple to identify, and grows plentifully. Chickweed is edible and medicinal, so it is definitely a plant you will want to keep around.
I didn’t notice chickweed until I really began looking for it, then I realized how abundantly it grows and saw it everywhere!
It’s small and unassuming, but so beneficial and easy to use. Don’t pass it by, pull it up, or mow it over!
This chickweed pesto recipe is a super tasty way to use your foraged chickweed. It can also be made into a healing chickweed salve for the skin.
Purple Dead Nettle
Purple dead nettle is another plant you have likely seen often, even if you didn’t know what it was at the time. It grows readily in most places and again is seen as a weed with most people not realizing how amazing and beneficial they are.
It’s super easy to forage for purple dead nettle, since it’s likely in your yard or somewhere close! This is one edible weed you don’t want to pass up.
Purple dead nettle has a slight resemblance to stinging nettle, but without the sting, hence the name “dead nettle.”
It is a highly nutritious superfood, and the leaves are edible and can be used the same way you’d use any other leafy green. They are a bit fuzzy, so for salads, I recommend using them in a blend of other greens.
This wild-growing weed is astringent, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and more. There is a wide array of edible and medicinal uses for this easy-to-find plant!
Purple dead nettle is one of the plants covered in my gather + root online foraging course! Sign up below to get free info sheets from the course, all about purple dead nettle.
Henbit is known for being a look-alike to purple dead nettle, and it is closely related. Growing worldwide, henbit is just as edible as purple dead nettle.
While you’ll often find them growing near each other, it is nothing to worry about if you get the two confused since they are both safe plants to use.
Henbit is an edible weed that is medicinal, has anti-inflammatory properties, and is also good for the digestive system. It makes a wonderful cup of tea after a spring foraging outing!
Self-heal is a common herb in the mint family, but with no scent. It grows in temperate climates, and you’ll see it in wet soil areas along lakes and rivers, and on the edges of wooded areas. For many of us, that means in our yards too!
Self-heal is an edible weed, its flowers are safe to eat raw although they are a bit bitter. Add the leaves and flowers to smoothies or soups, they are very nutritious!
For centuries, self-heal has been used for medicinal purposes. It is disinfecting, healing, and is wonderful for an infused oil, salve, or tincture!
Plantain is a common plant I saw all of the time growing up in my yard, around the fields, and towards the woods behind my house. I never knew what it was or its amazing benefits until recently!
You have likely seen plantain around too, it’s so common you might not have noticed it!
Foraging for plantain is incredibly easy, and is very useful!
Long known as “nature’s band-aid,” plantain works wonderfully to heal bug bites, scrapes, rashes, and minor wounds. I consider it one of the best all-purpose healing plants to have on hand. It is an excellent addition to an herbal salve.
Just when I thought I couldn’t love this common underdog “weed” more, I learned that plantain is also a nutritious edible weed! It is high in vitamins A, C, and K, and are also a wonderful source of iron, calcium, and magnesium.
You can add plantain leaves to soups and stews, or bake them and eat them like kale chips. Definitely don’t pass this amazing plant by, it grows world round, so you are sure to find some!
Yarrow grows nearly year-round in mild temperate climates, with small flowers blooming in spring and summer. The entire yarrow plant, from flowers, leaves, stems, and roots, can be useful for edible and medicinal purposes.
You will find yarrow to forage in fields, yards, meadows, and disturbed areas. It is never far from where you may be out looking or wandering!
Yarrow has a few look-alikes to note, Queen Anne’s lace is one that is edible, and most notable is poison hemlock which is highly toxic. Be certain of your identification!
However, once you positively identify yarrow, you will be happy you did so as it is a highly useful edible weed and medicinal plant!
This wild rose and yarrow soap and arnica and yarrow skin cream are great recipes to use your yarrow once you find, identify, and forage yarrow!
Mallow grows in backyards worldwide, once you know what it looks like you will recognize it easily and often. It’s a low-growing annual plant with alternate roundish leaves that have tiny hairs.
Mallow has small pink or white flowers you’re sure to have seen in your own backyard, out of a crack in the sidewalk, or in between rocks.
Some species of mallow such as Malva sylvestris grow taller and have larger flowers.
The entire mallow plant is edible, and they make a tasty and beautiful addition to salads. Cook the leaves and use them similar to okra to thicken soups and stews, and they are rich in vitamins A and C, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and selenium.
Wonderfully medicinal, mallow is good for the digestive system and healing sore throats and coughs. The leaves are good for skin conditions as they are hydrating and emollient. Mallow makes a great cold water infusion too!
Clover is a low-growing perennial backyard plant that is drought resistant and grows in mat-like clusters. They have white or dark pink flowers, and you are sure to know them well as they especially like to grow in grassy areas.
I have lifelong memories of clover flowers in my grass! Little did I know that they are a highly nutritious and edible weed right in my yard.
What you might not know is that clover is in the legume family and is high in protein. The flowers have many vitamins and minerals and can be either eaten raw (hello beautiful spring wild salad!) or made into this lovely white clover iced tea.
Both red and white clover flowers can be useful for medicinal purposes.
Red clover can steep into a tea to use as an overall anti-inflammatory and soothing tonic, which can be helpful for women’s menopausal hot flashes and fertility.
White clover can be useful as a blood purifier and is also an immune booster.
Pineapple weed, also known as wild chamomile, is a plant I have seen around since my childhood without knowing what it was and how useful it is.
When I learned its uses are the same as chamomile, I was so excited! I love it when a plant that has always been there in its unassuming way, turns out to be a useful and edible weed!
Pineapple weed is easy to forage because it grows almost everywhere. It looks similar to cultivated chamomile, but without the white flower petals, and stays much closer to the ground.
It smells just like chamomile and is often found along walking paths, trails, and roadsides.
This sweet wild-growing plant is also edible and medicinal, again similar to cultivated chamomile, it promotes relaxation, good sleep, and is a digestive aid.
Making pineapple weed tea is the most common way to ingest it, but there are other ways one can use this amazing plant!
Purslane is a very common garden “weed” you are sure to have seen before, even if you didn’t know how useful it is! It’s a trailing groundcover, and the leaves are succulent, fleshy, and paddle-shaped with a smooth surface and edges.
It has small yellow flowers that bloom mid-summer to early fall and has a distinctive thick and reddish stem. Be careful not to mix it up with hairy-stemmed spurge, which looks similar to purslane but is toxic.
Purslane grows wildly worldwide and can grow in conditions that many plants wouldn’t thrive in, with full sun and sandy soil. Purslane thrives in poor soil! You’ll find it growing in the cracks of sidewalks, in fields, and on lawns.
Both edible and medicinal, purslane leaves can be eaten raw, cooked, or pickled. Purslane leaves are very nutritious to use in smoothies or to thicken soups and stews.
Medicinally, use purslane as a poultice for cuts and burns. Its antibacterial properties are wonderful to use as a tea to treat colds and bronchitis!
Purslane is a strong, well-growing, super plant that thrives in the worst conditions, which personally inspires me!
Forage Edible Weeds in Your Backyard
Learn all there is to know about the plants that grow naturally all around us and close to home. They are strong, useful, healing, and resilient.
Not only are they amazing and usable to us in a multitude of ways, but we as humans can also learn from their persistence and humble strength!
Keep growing, thrive in the worst of conditions, restart on your own, and heal everyone around you. These edible weeds are wise, beautiful, useful, and healing. Use them to their potential!
I believe that there are many different herbs growing all over the world that have properties in them which target certain ailments in the human body. I find it such a blessing and a comfort to know that we have “natural” remedies we can use. Even being able to use “weeds” is just amazing.
Thanks Colleen for your research and information. I have been using natural remedies on my children for years. Favourites being tea tree oil, lavender, camomile, clary sage and brahmi just lately.
Grow Forage Cook Ferment says
You’re so welcome. Enjoy!
Thank you so much for this! I think everyone should have a medicinal garden in their backyard. I see no reason to take something made in lab, when you can first try a natural remedy you grow at home. You can easily go and pick the remedy you need at any time. Your backyard pharmacy will be there for you even in times of crisis when regular pharmacies might be closed or looted.
i enjoy looking these healing weed that pack with so much benefit
Thanks for this great reminder of what’s out there within reach. I, too, make a salve of plantain that heals the scratches from raspberry-picking. Great to see good photos of hen-bit and self-heal–the only 2 I’m not very familiar with.
Thank you for this post about foraging wild herbs. I already pick and use several of these. I also make a salve with plantain and it is excellent for burns as well as insect bites. I look forward to reading more.
Grow Forage Cook Ferment says
That’s wonderful, Trish. Enjoy!