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Five Beautiful and Edible Weeds, and How to Use Them

Cynthia is a digital marketer, writer, and artist. She writes about a variety of topics, especially digital marketing, languages & culture.

A chicory flower.

A chicory flower.

5 Edible, Medicinal, and Beautiful Weeds in My Yard

When I moved to western North Carolina from Colorado, I couldn’t believe how different it was. Compared to Colorado, I may as well have moved to a rainforest! It’s not really a rainforest where I live, but it’s moist and lush, and a lot of biodiversity exists because of the rain and warmth, especially in the summer.

My new home came with about five acres of land, and that first summer, I noticed lots of blooming plants that I wouldn't see in Colorado. Having an interest in biology, my inner scientist went to work and began investigating. I found that in and around my yard, I have so many useful “weeds” and plants growing.

The following is a list of five weeds that are always growing almost right under my feet! Though I do a lot of gardening, I never wanted to eradicate the wild plants growing in my yard. I always thought they were beautiful.

Once I found out how beneficial they were, I began experimenting. I began incorporating them into my cooking in addition to making teas, fragrant oils, and vinegars. I made sachets from them, as well.

I will caution you, however: it’s extremely important to identify these plants with 100% certainty. Lots of look-alikes exist, some of which can be harmful or even fatal if you’re not careful.

If you ever use them for medicinal purposes, it’s always best to check with a qualified professional (herbalist, doctor, or homeopathic doctor) to be sure that you are not causing harm to your body.

Everyone reacts differently to herbs (and weeds) and they can have drug interactions—use the utmost caution.

1. Chicory: Cichorium intybus

This weed caught my attention because it has showy little blue flowers on tall stalks in the spring and summer. It likes to grow in full sun and it decorates the roadsides with a beautiful display of color.

It likes zones 3-7. It thrives in average or even poor soil. That’s good because I never really think the soil is that good near a highway.

Chicory flowers begin to bloom in early spring and continue to do so into fall. The flowers don’t stay open all day; they open in the morning and close up. If you ever take cuttings of this plant, the flowers will still do this.

If you are feeling adventurous, you can use young, fresh leaves from this plant in salads. They also cook like spinach.

You can also take the roots, dry and then grind them into “coffee grounds.” In fact, the French used to add chicory to their coffees to allow for a more robust flavor.

If you harvest chicory, it doesn’t dry or freeze very well, though. It’s best to use it fresh.

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I personally love the flowers so much that I’ll use the cut stems as decoration.