This is the time of year for it. Every other ad on television shows some guy freaking out about dandelions in his yard. God forbid there should be something besides one specific type of grass growing in that yard. Somewhere along the way an advertising genius figured out how to perpetuate the notion that a monocrop of Tall Fescue or Kentucky Bluegrass is preferable to encouraging biodiversity in your lawn.
During the recent drought our lawn has remained one of the greenest in town. People are constantly asking what we put on our lawn to make it so lush and green. The answer that nearly always surprises is “nothing.” We let the lawn get a little shaggy two or three times during mowing season to allow the weeds a chance to propagate themselves. Beyond that, we do nothing. We do not water. We do not spray poison. In return we have a lush green lawn. In the spring we have a yard full of beautiful wild flowers. And we have an herbal medicine chest nearly year round.
Here is a partial list of the “weeds” that we have growing in our yard. Click on each for more information on their use as food or medicine.
Dandelion – The most dreaded of all “weeds.” The greens are nutritious and delicious in a salad, or cooked. The roots are great for building Iron in the blood. They are also useful in treating issues with the kidney and liver.
Plantain – No, not the little bananas. This is one of my favorite plants to use as medicine. Makes a great “chew and spit” poultice for cuts, bites, and stings. Eat a few leaves for heartburn. Drink as a tea for ulcers, heartburn, inflammation of the organs, and as a mild laxative. Soak it in olive oil for 7 days, strain, and melt in bee’s wax. Top it off with tea tree or lavender essential oil, and you have a miracle salve that will take care of any cut, sting, bite, dry skin, etc.
Wild Lettuce – I always say, “this is one of my favorite plants” about many plants. I can’t say it enough about Wild Lettuce. It is a great astringent. It is used in a soap and a face wash by Burt’s Bee’s. That use aside, Wild Lettuce is one of the best remedies for stress headaches. It is specific for those headaches that you get from tension in the neck and shoulders. It is a great sleep aid, and a wonderful pain reliever.
Burdock – Used as a treatment for most skin issues. Tired of acne? Try powdered Burdock Root.
Ground Ivy – I drink this in a tea for dull, congestive headaches and migraines.
Star of Bethlehem – Another favorite. This is a truly beautiful little flower. The bulb is very similar to garlic or onion. It can be eaten raw, boiled, or toasted (as is often done in the East). Homeopathic medicine uses the bulb in a treatment for cancer. Dr. Bach used this flower as one of the five flower essences in his rescue remedy. Alone the flower essence is used for shock or trauma, or to encourage a sense of inner peace and a connection to God.
Violet – Violet flowers and leaves are both great in salads. They are a great source of Vitamin C.
Mugwort – Useful as a tea for digestive issues. Also great to encourage dreaming. Specifically useful to encourage dreams that have meaning. It may be used as a mild sedative, to expel parasites, and to bring on suppressed menstruation. It is also used by acupuncturists for the process of moxabustion. A variety of Mugwort is being grown in many parts of Africa for use as an insect repellent to help fight malaria.
Lamb’s Quarters – This one gets pulled from gardens to make room for spinach. Lamb’s Quarters are actually more nutritive than spinach. They have a similar flavor, but a “meatier” texture. The seeds are similar to Quinoa and may be cooked in a similar way.
Clover – Both Red and White Clover are used. Red is the popular one, and is a bit tastier, but you can use either Clover. The flowering tops are used to purify the blood. They are specific for many types of cancer. They can also be used to lower blood pressure, and to balance hormones.
That’s 10 plants off the top of my head! That is just what grows of its own accord in a yard that isn’t sprayed with “weed” killer. Next time you see a commercial that reminds you to buy grass seeds, monocrop, and spray for weeds; burn your television. At least then it will be good for providing warmth.