6 Weeds That Are Actually Useful

Posted on: 20 March 2015

Weeds can be a nightmare when you are trying to plant a new flower bed or when you are trying to get your garden to thrive. Although weeds can ruin your lawn, garden, and yard, there are a few weeds found around the world that are useful. Those sneaking dandelions that crowd your carefully manicured garden could, in fact, be a blessing in disguise. After you've learned more about the uses of these common weeds, you may change your opinion on what is and is not a weed indeed.

Horsetail

This primeval plant is a living fossil--the only surviving genus of the class Equisetopsida. Named for its resemblance to a horse's tail, it has much in common with asparagus. You will find it just as edible, as it is high in silica and produces its own essential vitamin D. Horsetail is widely known for its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, and is used by many to strengthen the body's immune system.

Shepherd's Purse

This plant is viewed differently around the world. For some, it is seen as an annoying weed, and for others it is prized for its extensive range of uses. Widely cultivated as a cabbage-flavoured spring green, you will find that the leaves grow quite large. Shepherd's purse is one of the essential ingredients of Japanese ceremonial rice that is eaten every January in Japan.

Milkweed

Considered a weed in many parts of the world, milkweed is the primary food supply for the monarch butterfly. The conservation of these graceful creatures has become a focus for many who care about the preservation of endangered species. You may find that allowing this so-called weed to flourish brings a happiness to your garden as provided by the flittering vitality of the monarch butterfly.

Dandelion

If you are looking for a unique garnish, the dandelion is a fresh option for anything from cakes to pizza. The edible petals and young leaves can be added to salads, as well as be used to make tea and wine. Dandelion roots have been shown to improve the function of the liver by reestablishing hydration and electrolyte balance and removing toxins.

Bittercress

The most common variety of bittercress found in gardens is the hairy bittercress (C. hirsuta) and wavy bittercress (C. fluxuosa). While bittercress grows easily in very poor soil, it flourishes in richer conditions. Bittercress spreads freely by means of its seeds but is easily controlled by hoeing. Both the flowers and leaves are edible either raw or cooked, finding their way into hairy bittercress pesto, wild salads, and bittercress soup.

Knotweed

This common and invasive weed spreads by seed. However, you will find that it can be easily controlled. By allowing knotweed to grow minimally, your garden will find itself host to many species of caterpillars and butterflies who love to feast on this weed. Another animal-friendly benefit of knotweed is its abundant production of seeds, which are a favourite food for a large number of bird species.

Knotweed's young leaves are a rich source of zinc, and its seeds can be used just as you would use buckwheat. The whole or dried seeds can be used in pancakes, biscuits and piñole. As a diuretic herb, knotweed is used in the treatment of myriad health issues such as haemorrhoids, bleeding, and dysentery.

The above-listed weeds have great uses, but you are probably more familiar with the types of weeds that crowd your lawn and choke your garden without any hidden benefits. If you can't seem to fight them off yourself, or you just want help identifying what types of weeds are growing in your yard, give a local landscape company a call. They will be able to both help you combat weeds, as well as teach you a thing or two in the process.

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