Happy glorious spring day! The sun is shining bright. The sky is a gorgeous blue. The birds are singing sweet melodies off in the distance. Honestly, days like today keep my soul alive! Mother Nature has so much to offer and I experience her a little more every day in my wellness journey.
As I sit here peacefully contemplating the layout of my garden, I notice that the busy bees are working hard as they move from flower to flower. The yard is full of color, from tiny purple flowers to tall yellow ones. Which reminds me - did you know many of your backyard “weeds” are actually edible? Some of them are even medicinal! Almost everyone has some sort of edible greenery in their backyard. Here are a few of my favorites:
The most common blue violet is native to North America and have a strikingly beautiful blue-purple color flower with heart shaped leaves. Although many people consider the wild violet to be a weed because of its prevalence, the flowers and leaves are edible and contain medicinal properties.
The flowers make beautiful toppers for salads and wraps, and the leaves can be used in pesto or on sandwiches. The leaves can also be steamed or sautéed, as well as a great nutritional addition to soups. To brighten up your spring Soirée, the bright colored flowers can be frozen in ice cubes for a more decorative beverage.
Violet leaves are high in soluble fiber making them beneficial for lowering cholesterol, feeding gut bacteria, and encouraging health bowel movements. The are also high in vitamin C, rutin, and quercetin making them anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory. violets are great additions to spring cleansing routines as they are stimulate and cleanse the lymphatic system. After a long winters nap, our lymphatic system gets sluggish. This cleansing effect helps the lymph eliminate toxins gently.
This “weed” is also a common back yard staple to many people and often considered an annoyance despite the beneficial properties. Dandelions are usually the first food for foraging bees. To humans, the entire plant is edible, clear down to the roots.
Dandelion flowers make great salad toppers and can also be infused in a sun tea. The leaves and roots are full of vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, K, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Dandelion leaves are often used as digestive bitters to help stimulate the production of bile to better assist the digestive process. The leaves can be sautéed or steamed and eaten as a side to any meal or fresh in salads.
The roots are often roasted and used in tea as a diuretic. This is beneficial for cleansing the toxins from ten system through the renal and urinary tract. Due to the many detoxification properties that dandelions have, they are often used for liver cleansing, balancing hormones and blood sugar, cleansing the skin, and more.
Purple Dead Nettles
Another common pesky weed, purple dead nettles often take over back yard areas. Guess what? These weeds are also nutritious and edible! This plant stands out among the others not only for its purple hue on the leaves, but can also be identified by the square stem as opposed to a typical round one.
Purple dead nettles are in the mint family, and resemble the stinging nettle except no sting. The leaves are often used in pesto and salads. The purple tops are slightly sweeter than the leaves and can be added to soups and smoothies. This plant is high in vitamin C, iron, and fiber.
Medicinally, the purple dead nettle is known as an anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. It can be used topically as a poultice for wounds and stings similar to plantains. It is also a diuretic, astringent, and diaphoretic. Some people use it for seasonal allergies. In large doses, however, this plant can have a laxative type effect so don’t get carried away.
It Is pretty safe to say most everyone has come in contact with these herbs before. Most of you may have them in your back yard! Now is the time of year to start exploring what is growing and taking full advantage of the health properties these back yard herbs have. Enjoy!