One man’s nemesis can be another man’s cup of tea. Depending on how you look at it, the bright yellow heads of dandelions are an evil side effect of spring, foreshadowing back aches from spending hours plucking the insidious weeds from your otherwise perfect lawn. Or you can brew dandelions to make a medicinal tea suitable for improving digestion and stimulating the gallbladder to avoid painful gallstones.
See? There’s a bright side. And that’s the purpose of National Weed Appreciation Day this March 28th: seeing the upside of tenacious plants that want to take over our gardens.
The main uses for weeds are as food or medicine. You can add the leaves of some weeds, like dandelions and lamb’s quarters, to your salad. Run out of spinach? No problem. Just grab some out of the yard.
Other weeds are better cooked, such as amaranth leaves. Since purslane is sticky, it works well in stews and soups, imparting antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. You can eat the taproot of yellow burdock as a root vegetable.
Cleavers, also known as catchweed and bedstraw, clean out the blood and kidneys. Chickweed can be used as a diuretic, an anti-inflammatory and to treat rashes.
Okay, we know what you’re thinking. I don’t care if those weeds contain vitamins, do you know how many hours I’ve put into my lawn?! We’re not suggesting you start a weed preserve. This is weed appreciation day, not weed cultivation day. Maybe just take a moment to think about the purpose that dandelion serves in the ecosystem. Then yank it.
If you’re interested in medicinal weeds, er, plants, consider devoting a very small piece of land to them. Maybe in the back corner of your yard. Or in your neighbor’s yard.
Otherwise, the trick is to get at those weeds early, before they go to seed and proliferate. Some of the ones we deal with the most in Texas include:
- Henbit—purple flowers, square stems
- Goosegrass—it looks like good grass, but it isn’t
- Bittercress – Beware its pods full of tiny seeds waiting to colonize your lawn
- Mayweed – also known as “stinking mayweed,” this monster can grow two feet tall
As we reflect on weeds on this special national day, we realize where we most appreciate them: Out in nature, where they can do whatever the heck they want. When driving down the interstate, a field of purple henbit or daisy-like mayweed is perfectly nice. Especially with the windows up, so we can’t smell them. But in our yard? That’s another matter.
At Buzz, we always encourage people to do the things they like and excel at, and leave other stuff to the professionals. Are your weeds too much for you to handle, let alone appreciate? Hire a gardener. Does that fence need some new slats or maybe a complete replacement? Call your friends at Buzz.