Nature’s Candy


You may have heard of edible flowers like sour grass, or of the healing qualities of aloe Vera, but what you may not realize, is that many of the plants we call weeds or decoration are edible or can be used for medicinal purposes. Of course, don’t go eating just any plant without proper identification, but if for whatever reason you find yourself in a situation where you are desperate for food or medical care, these urban or forest plants will do in a pinch. The world is full of valuable resources, and some may end up surprising you.

There are many plants all around us that we call weeds that can be eaten with basically no preparation (of course it is best to wash them off, but other than that), and that actually taste very good. First of all we have Bermuda buttercups, which you may know as sour-grass . It has clover-like leaves, and is a very vibrant yellow color with orange pollen. The key thing here is the stem, and if you eat it or simply suck on it, you will experience a vibrant, refreshing, sour flavor that will have you yearning for more. However, it is very high in oxalic acid, which can thin your blood, so I would not advise eating it in large amounts. Next we have the common garden plant that may surprise you; dandelions. Dandelions are the bright yellow flowers that turn into puffballs when seeding. The entire dandelion is edible, and I have been told that they are slightly bitter, and that the flower is sweet. Dandelions are high in vitamins A, C and K, and they also have E and B. They have iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium, have potent antioxidants, and are known to taste good in salads and smoothies. Last we have porcelain, the plant you can always see growing at the edges of roads, or in sidewalk cracks. It has a toxic look-alike, that will make you ill, and so before tasting, you should ALWAYS break the stems and see if there is a milky white sap. If there is, THIS IS NOT PURSLANE, DO NOT EAT!!!. It is “very low in Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6 and Folate, and a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.” and it is very high in omega-3 fatty acids. It has a slightly sour flavor, and a muciliginous texture.

Many plants also can be used for medicinal purposes, and could save you a world of trouble. White clover is the small white flowers with small, cylindrical petals often used for making flower crowns. They can be found on our school field at the beginning of spring, and are anti-rheumatic, depurative, antiseptic and analgesic Tea made from it is helpful with cold fever, and can be used as an eyewash. Rose petals soaked in water can serve as a toner, and add moisture to your skin. The succulent-like plant with purple flowers found on the greenbelt is called sea-fig, and function somewhat like aloe vera. The juice of the leaves is antiseptic, and if used externally, can be a calming curative for burns, scrapes, cracked skin, bruises, sunburn, eczema, cracked lips, skin conditions, and insect stings. Common Plantains (not to be confused with the yellow fruit) are a type of plant that with little maintenance can work as a skin moisturizer. Take the leaves, and infuse them in oil or water, and it can heal wounds and bruises.

Many plants that we ignore, or throw away without a second glance are some of the most beneficial, or nutritious things we could find. While I don’t recommend eating any old plant, or smearing the juice of all of your garden leaves all over you, take a second to consider, how many hidden treasures there might be just at your feet. Once you start looking, what you find may surprise you.