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.

Warning

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.