12 Common Weeds You Can Harvest and Eat

Forage for free food in your own backyard

Got weeds? Then, you have dinner! Take a closer look at the weeds growing in your yard, and you'll find that many of them are edible, delicious and nutritious. 

Harvesting plants that many people consider weeds is a perfect way to enhance your family meals without spending any money. The plants are right there in your own backyard, and this is a great use for something that is generally considered a nuisance. 

Get rid of weeds and save money at the same time--what more could a resourceful person want?

Weed Harvesting Tips

Before you step out back to forage weeds for dinner, there are a few things that you should know.

  • Only harvest weeds that you can positively identify and know to be edible. The Complete Guide to Edible Wild Plants, by the Department of the Army, is a good reference, if you aren't sure.
  • Avoid picking weeds close to roadways. They will have absorbed exhaust fumes and runoff from the road.
  • Avoid harvesting weeds in areas that may have been contaminated by animal feces.
  • Do not pick weeds from yards that have been treated with pesticides or herbicides.
  • Only eat the parts of plants that you know to be edible. Many edible plants have non-edible, and sometimes poisonous, parts.
  • 01 of 12

    Blackberries

    Two people holding blackberries in cupped hands
    Paul Plews/Cultura/Getty Images

    Edible Parts: Fruit, leaves, and roots

    When to Harvest: Late summer

    Uses: Eat them fresh, use in jams, syrups, and baked goods, or freeze blackberries for later use. Use leaves or root bark to make tea.

  • 02 of 12

    Burdock

    Close Up Of Burdock Plant
    Doree Morse/EyeEm/Getty Images

    Edible Parts: Roots and stalks

    When to Harvest: Spring through fall

    Uses: Use young stalks in place of artichoke hearts. Use cooked roots in soups and casseroles.

  • 03 of 12

    Cattails

    Close-Up Of Cattails Growing Outdoors
    Tony Matthews /EyeEm/Getty Images

    Edible Parts: Shoots, flower heads, and pollen

    When to Harvest: Late spring

    Uses: Eat peeled shoots raw and in salads, add them to stir-fry, or enjoy them cooked. Boil young female flowerheads and eat them like corn. Use pollen in place of flour.

  • 04 of 12

    Chicory

    Close-Up Of Blue Flower Blooming Outdoors
    Alexander Burenko /EyeEm/Getty Images

    Edible Parts: Flowers, leaves, and roots

    When to Harvest: Spring through fall, but leaves and blossoms are best when harvested young.

    Uses: Use chicory in the same manner that you would use dandelions.

    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • 05 of 12

    Dandelions

    Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) meadow
    Martin Ruegner/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

    Edible Parts: Flowers, leaves, and roots

    When to Harvest: Spring through fall, but leaves and blossoms are best when harvested young.

    Uses: Add leaves and flowers raw to salads. Saute the leaves. Make dandelion wine or jelly out of the blossoms. Use the roots to make a coffee substitute.

  • 06 of 12

    Japanese Knotweed

    Japanese Knotweed
    David T. Grewcock/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images

    Edible Part: Young shoots

    When to Harvest: Early spring before the plant gets woody.

    Uses: Use shoots in place of rhubarb. Steam it. Add it to soups, use it to make jam, or try it in baked desserts.

  • 07 of 12

    Lamb's Quarters

    Agriculture - Weeds, Lambs Quarters (Chenopodium album) aka. White Goosefoot
    Carroll & Carroll /Design Pics/Getty Images

    Edible Parts: Leaves and stems

    When to Harvest: Mid-spring to late fall

    Uses: Add raw to salads. Saute and serve as a vegetable. Use in place of spinach.

  • 08 of 12

    Plantain

    Plantago major (broadleaf plantain, or greater plantain)
    Cristobal Alvarado Minic/Moment Open/Getty Images

    Edible Parts: Leaves and seeds

    When to Harvest: Spring through fall

    Uses: Add young leaves to salads. Saute older leaves. Eat seeds raw or roasted.

    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 09 of 12

    Purslane

    golden purslane. september. close up of gold and green plant.
    Jo Whitworth/Photolibrary/Getty Images

    Edible Parts: Leaves, stem, flowers, and seeds

    When to Harvest: Summer

    Uses: Add raw to salads or toss in soups. Boil it or sautee it.

  • 10 of 12

    Red Clover

    Red Clover Blooming On Field
    David Taylor /EyeEm/Getty Images

    Edible Parts: Flowers

    When to Harvest: Late spring through summer

    Uses: Add raw to salads. Steep for tea. Toss in soups.

  • 11 of 12

    Stinging Nettle

    A man holding a fresh handful of stinging nettles.
    Mint Images/Mint Images RF/Getty Images

    Edible Parts: Young stems and leaves (after boiling)

    When to Harvest: Spring

    Uses: Leaves must be boiled to destroy stinging hairs. Use in soups, pasta dishes or other cooked dishes. Steep for tea.

  • 12 of 12

    Wild Violet

    Close-Up Of Flowers In Field
    Florin Prundus /EyeEm/Getty Images

    Edible Parts: Flowers and leaves

    When to Harvest: Spring

    Uses: Add to salads. Use atop baked goods as decoration.