Mother Nature didn't just randomly throw stuff out there. Everything is there for a reason including weeds, which serve many useful and beneficial purposes. Do you remember how much fun you had playing with dandelions as a child? Their bright yellow blooms were so appealing. You couldn't help but smile when looking at them. Then, later in the summer when the blossoms had "gone by" they turned into billowy white puffs. As a froglet, I always made a wish before blowing the tiny bits of white fluff into the gentle summer breeze. In addition to being fun and pretty to look at, did you know that dandelions are tasty to eat? They are! Dandelion leaves can be cooked, or eaten raw, much like spinach. They're a great source of Vitamin A, C, calcium, iron, and fiber. To keep the taste from being bitter, the trick is to pick them when the plants are young...before they blossom. Native Americans have long used the humble dandelion as medicine for certain ailments. And then there's Dandelion Wine. I, personally, have never tried it but I'm told it's pretty good! But dandelions aren't the only tasty and useful weeds.
These common weeds are also useful, many of which can be made into herbal teas or medicines. These are just a few of them. Borage, chickweed, cornflower, nettle, purslane, and watercress. Yep. That expensive salad and sandwich green you find in the better food stores (watercress) is actually a weed!
Weeds can also become a habitat for beneficial insects: wild blackberry, motherwart, Joe- Pye weed, and aster. Garden weeds can also be a diagnostic tool for telling us the nutritional balance of our soil through their presence and growth habits. Some weeds can also serve to fix the soil's nutritional imbalance. And weeds provide homes for microbes and animals.
Some of my favorite flowers are actually weeds. The beautiful Bluebonnet is the state flower of Texas. Clover (which smells divine!), Foxglove, Bluebells, Daisies, Forget-me-nots, Indian Paintbrushes, Brown-eyed Susans, Indian Blankets, Mexican hats, Winecups, spitted beebalm, and Pink Evening Primrose...are only some of the many beautiful, fragrant, and colorful wildflowers that aren't flowers at all, but are humble weeds.
The next time you start removing weeds from your garden and lawn, think before you pull. You may want to learn more about which weeds are valuable and which ones aren't before plucking them all.
How to celebrate this day? Look at the weeds you find growing around you. Can you identify them? Which ones are useful as food, tea, or medicine? And remember to use #weedAppreciationDay on your social media posts.