When I posted about the hidden dangers of yarden juicing, one thing I had in mind myself was the proper identification of the plants. It would be just like me to mistakenly eat poison ivy, or even plastic ivy.
Most sites recommend you check with an expert on local plants before you eat any. I’m sure that is sound advice. Every region has new or mature permaculture communities that run classes and workshops and send out regular newsletters. We live in the Bay Area by Common Ground, a consistently solid source of local information, classes and supplies.
Just think of how this edible weeds thing plays out. Edible weeds means not having to do organic weed control, never (of course) using pesticides and herbicides, reducing your grocery cost, and increasing your intake of healthy foragables. Plus when your neighbor looks at you sideways and makes some comment about your weeds you say, “Dude I’m saving the earth.” Try not to be too sanctimonious. Act like you’re here to help.
- Our local nursery is very helpful and will try to identify plants when we bring them in.
- There are a lot of great plant specialist Tweeple in our twitter community that always seem willing to help us. They have probably saved my life at least once.
- Online resources are extremely plentiful from images to videos, even video courses to teach you how to identify plants and what to do with them once you know what they are
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Plants can vary in appearance from region to region and throughout their growing cycle. When we were identifying the Sow Thistle we learned there are several other plants that have a similar appearance to prehistoric Dandelions. Key words and phrases I look for, “there are several plants that look like dandelion, none are harmful.” And the every popular, “Known hazards of Sow Thistle: None known.”
Here are some resources I found very helpful in field identification of our plants. I’m using Sow Thistle (Sonchus oleraceus) as the example.
Google images, common sowthistle
Natural Medicinal Herbs, Sonchus oleraceus
I know some people frown on content aggregation but I’ve learned a ton from sites like eHow. Squidoo is where I first found the “Edible weeds in Los Angeles” series. Really great stuff.
If you want to be a web purist and have a serious interest in learning about your weeds, consider subscribing to a site like HerbMentor. I don’t currently subscribe, but I have a good friend who swears by this.
My area of California is home to a wide range of edible weeds, like Mallow, Sow Thistle, Wood Sorrel, Chickweed, Dandelions, and many, many more. Drought resistant and extremely tolerant of native insect, plant and fungal pests – not only are they easy to grow, they are hard to kill!
That’s my kind of gardening.
I Am Organic Weed Control by Brad Rowland is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.