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Good Weeds: Chickweed, Purslane, and Dandelion

Updated on March 2, 2021
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Suzanne is a former regional magazine publisher, as well as a cooking and gardening writer. She lives in North Carolina.

One of several patches of Chickweed growing in my yard.
One of several patches of Chickweed growing in my yard. | Source

Chickweed

Chickweed Stellaria media, is not a weed, but actually, an herb.

One of the first "weeds" to emerge in the spring, chickweed is easy to spot in the dormant lawn.

A Master Gardener, and very familiar will all types of weeds, I noticed a patch of it growing in one of my flower borders as I was on the way to the mailbox. The weather here on the Delmarva Peninsula has been unusually warm for February, and Little Miss Chickweed has definitely used it to her advantage, spreading her tiny green self everywhere in the warm, moist soil. Unlike my neighbors, I do not use weed killer on my lawn or in my flower beds. The dandelions flourish, and I have the delightful benefit of watching the goldfinches chomp on the white seed heads.

Anyone desiring to grow their own little patch of Chickweed to use for chickweed tea need only find one plant and either transplant it, or wait until the seedheads emerge with hundreds of seeds per plant. Simply sprinkle the chickweed seeds over moist soil and pat them down or sprinkle a bit of loose soil over them. This is a very invasive plant, so be mindful of where you plant it.


Chickweed Tea is Easy to Make

Chickweed has been featured on Dr. Oz as a diet tea, and, as I am trying to lose a few unwanted pounds, I was actually looking for it so I could brew a cup of tea. Chickweed contains potassium and magnesium which reduces bloating and also acts as a detox. Dr. Oz recommends drinking 1 cup in the afternoon for maximum benefits.

CHICKWEED TEA

2 tablespoons fresh, finely chopped chickweed

1 cup boiling water.

Directions: Wash and dry freshly picked chickweed leaves. Chop fine and place in a teacup. Pour boiling water over chickweed and allow to steep for 15 to 20 minutes.



Purslane

Here is another "weed" found growing freely among my flower beds in early spring. It is easy to spot with its fat leaves that resemble a succulent plant.

Facts:

Common purslane, Portulaca oleracea, is a member of the Portulacaceae family.

A weedy summer annual, it was first identified in the United States in 1672 in Massachusetts.

Edible, with a sweet, tangy flavor, purslane is an excellent addition to salads.

Common Purslane
Common Purslane | Source

Dandelion

I'm sure my neighbors have noticed the dandelions in my front lawn. But so have the birds and bees! I don't allow them to overtake the lawn, but I do allow a few here and there to mature so I may enjoy watching my feathered friends munch on the seed heads before they float away. Plus, who doesn't love watching their children and grandchildren make a wish and blow the white fluffy seedheads across the lawn!

Dandelion Taraxacum officinale is a common weed found in most lawns across America.s

Considered by botanists to be herbs, the leaves, stems, flowers, and roots of the dandelion provide potassium, beta-carotene, Vitamins C and K, antioxidants and compounds that help fight heart disease.


Dandelion
Dandelion

Dandelion Tea Recipe

Other Weeds That Are Good For You

PURSLANE

The leaves, stems and flowers of the purslane plant are edible.

In ancient times purslane was used to help prevent and treat heart disease, failure and stroke.

It has been used in the treatment of hemorrhoids, diarrhea, dysentery, constipation, and parasites. Purslane leaves are crisp, chewy, and succulent with a mild lemony taste.

Raw purslane is 93% water, 3% carbohydrates, and 2% protein, and contains negligible fat (table). In a 100 gram reference amount, purslane supplies 20 calories, and rich amounts (20% or more of the Daily Value, DV) of vitamin E (81% DV) and vitamin C (25% DV), with moderate content (11-19% DV) of several dietary minerals (table). Purslane has been identified as the richest vegetable source of alpha-linolenic acid, an essential omega-3 fatty acid.[18]

A salad featuring purslane.
A salad featuring purslane. | Source

© 2012 Suzanne Sheffield

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