Public enemy #1: Dandelions
Almost every part of this remarkable and resilient plant is useful culinarily or medically. The leaves contain iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, along with copious amounts of vitamins A, C, and K2. Delicious in salads or cooked greens, these leaves are a nutritional powerhouse.
The flowers, in addition to wine making, are very versatile, and the petals can be eaten (will be posting a dandelion petal cookie recipe for spring) and can also be steeped in oil to make a massage oil that has been used to treat joint inflammation and rheumatism.
The roots of the plant are a long documented liver detoxifier, and is typically prepared as a tea though it can be bought in capsule form as well as tincture.
Public Enemy #2: Garlic mustard
Public Enemy #3: Lambsquarters
These things grow everywhere in my garden, and just like my war with Garlic mustard, my attempts to eradicate my potato plot of these was futile at best. However, they are incredibly nutritious, and are making a bit of a comeback in the culinary realm and are showing up at some farmers markets even! Imagine cashing in on your weeds! They tend to be found naturally in wastelands and weak soils that have been depleted (found them in my potato patch post harvest, thank you) as well as taking over any well drained disturbed soil (a must for lambsquarters, they wont germinate in undisturbed soil). They contain protein, vitamins A, Bs, and C, and are high in calcium. One thing about foraging for lambsquarters is that you want to make sure you harvest in uninhabited areas or in areas known to be free of contamination or waste, as lambsquarters tend to thrive in areas and can contain high levels of toxins if found in these areas. Don't be discouraged though, if you find them around your home and you don't use pesticides or chemical fertilizers, go ahead and try them! Far less bitter than the last two mentioned, lambsquarters taste much like spinach, without the finicky growing conditions or fear of bolting!
Public Enemy #4: Purslane
Fresh leaves contain surprisingly more Omega 3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable plant. 100 grams of fresh purslane leaves provides about 350 mg of α-linolenic acid, which is more than some fish oils! Also purslane has the highest amounts of Vit A of any leafy green vegetable, as well as considerable amounts of iron, magnesium, vit C, B vitamins, potassium and copper (a vital element which can be depleted if taking a zinc supplement as zinc inhibits copper absorption!) Cooking purslane depletes much of its antioxidant benefits, so eat it raw when possible.
Public Enemy #5: Japanese Knotweed
Have you heard all the hype surrounding Resveratrol supplements? It is touted as a very potent antioxidant and antimutigen. Thank a japanese knotweed plant, as they are the leading source of wildharvested resveratrol. The bamboo like shoots can be sliced and eaten and are great in stirfry, though also add a neat crunch to salads having a celery like consistency. This plant is considered highly invasive because unlike plants like dandelion which die at the roots, knotweed is a rhizome plant meaning it sends runners underground and new plants form from any of the roots containing a rhizome. Unless you remove every part of the underground root system, new plants continue to grow, and thus earned its status as highly invasive.