Weeds in the City   05.24.12

I wanted to share this blog post by Kristen Baumlier. Kristen joined us for SPACES' Walking Tour of Historical, Useful and Tasty Weeds on May 19 lead by Leslie Williams, Herbalist and Herbal Educator.

Posted by: Kbaumlier/tinySPLASH bigVIEW
Posted on: May 21 2012
Images from the tour:

Historical, Useful and Tasty Weeds - Weeds Walking Tour @ SPACES

Yesterday I went on part of the Walking Tour of Historical, Useful and Tasty Weeds which was led by Leslie Williams, Herbalist and Herbal Educator.

The tour started at SPACES gallery, and we walked around the block for the tour.

As we would walk, Williams would point out weeds, bushes, and trees that could be used as food, medicine, and for other uses. We did not get very far – because surprisingly almost every weed along the way was something that was edible or useful.

Williams would share historical stories, and I learned a lot about some of the weeds that I see everywhere in Cleveland.

Some of the things that we found on the walk were:

Mugwort – which can be used to help with sleep. It is put in dream pillows, and you can also make a tea.

Lamb's Quarter – a weed I see everywhere and is tasty. You can eat it like spinach.

Dock – which is a "bitters." You can use the root and boil it to make a bitters which is good for the stomach

Wild Grapes – you can eat the leaves and cook with them. Also the fresh tendrils growing are good to eat and are a tasty snack when hiking

Burdock – they are a good tonic and the seeds are good to eat. Many years ago these were considered a "secret ingredient" for salves that people made to feel like they could "fly."

Garlic mustard – a known weed in the Midwest – you can eat the small leaves or the seeds.

Aster – you can eat the flowers. They are said to improve your vision, but Williams said she has not experienced this.

Primrose – you can make primrose oil from the root which is rich in Omega -3 vitamins and really good for you.

Japanese barberry bush –the root is a good substitute for goldenseal. It makes a slightly bitter yellow tea and is good for allergies. This bush was first planted ornamentally – and now is invasive and spreading.

Catnip – good for stomach cramps, also good to induce sleep.

Milkweed – the fibers were used to make parachute cords in WWII. Some say you can boil the milk weed and then eat – others say you can just eat.

Blackberries – you can eat the leaves, they are a good tea. Similar to raspberries they are good for the muscles. You can crush them, dry them, then the ferment a little like black tea.

During the walking tour, Williams urged us to always try a little bit of a plant – and see how you react. She advised to not eat a whole bunch of something until you know it is safe to eat.

I was surprised to learn that so many weeds are edible or useful. It makes me see weeds in a new light. I still plan to pull them out of my flower beds at my house, but maybe will consider to use them for something before putting them in the compost.

Want to learn more about weeds?
Williams belongs to the American Herbalist Guild, and will be doing historical artisan work in the Cuyahoga National Valley Park near Cleveland this summer on herbal medicine, ethnobotany and native herbs for dying fabric.

You also can look up on various wild food sites, which list different plants and their uses.

Leslie Williams Website:
Forager Harvest Site:
SPACES Walking Tour Information:
UPCOMING SPACES Walking Tour Information:

 Historical, Useful, and Tasty Weeds – Weeds Walking Tour @ SPACES   photo by Kristen Baumlier
Historical, Useful, and Tasty Weeds – Weeds Walking Tour @ SPACES photo by Kristen Baumlier

Keywords: , edible and useful weeds, kristen baumliér, leslie williams, spaces, tinysplash bigview, walking tour, weeds
Author: Marilyn Ladd-Simmons, Gallery Manager
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