Wild Edible Backyard Weeds

Miner's Lettuce
 These are easy to spot and somewhat juicier and tastier than other weeds.  They grow in this circular shape that is different from most plants. 

I took all these photos in the Spring/Summer of 2014, while living in Oregon.  Over the years I've enjoyed studying wild edible plants.  We adapted a rule for our family about trying new things out in the wild:  you must correctly identify it without a doubt in 3 different sources before you taste! 

There are a lot of plants that are somewhat edible, but not that great tasting or you have to boil them in several changes of water.  The plants shown here you can just munch on right from the ground and are some of the easiest to identify.
English Lawn Daisies
 These sweet little daisies pop up all over but are great food, even our dog eats them like candy!  Maybe it's simply because he sees us eating them and wants them too.
A mallow plant
 These are pretty furry and scratchy feeling in the throat.  We don't like eating the greens raw.  You can put them in soup or stew, but we never got that far.  It's always nice to know what we could use if we had a dire need. 

As the plant matures, they make a hard round "cheese."  They call them that because they look like a doll house size circle of green cheese.  Anyhow, they are good picked, fried in butter,  and sprinkled on salad or for a little snack.

The original campfire marshmallow was  made from the roots of the Marsh Mallow plant, according to the "Edible Wild Plants" Peterson Field Guides.  It has a little recipe in there on how to make them.  Peterson Field Guides are such handy tools.
 This is more of a medicinal plant but can be eaten as salad greens when small and tender.  The problem is, we only ever spot it when it's really too big to eat.
Plantain up-close

Another mallow plant growing inside the lawn.
 Can you spot the circle shaped leaves?  They are easy to identify, even in a lawn.
A Narrow-leaved Plantain

 This isn't a very good picture of chickweed but it's the only patch I could find in town at the house we were staying.  It's got good flavor for addition to salads.  There's a link at the bottom of this page that shows a great picture of chickweed on our old property in Alaska.
A young Plantain

Wood Violets
 These have heart shaped leaves and grow close to the ground.  This patch happens to be embedded in the lawn too.  They had white blossoms, but in the photo they are gone.  There's also edible yellow wood violets shown further down.
Prickly lettuce

More Wild Lettuce
 There's a lot of prickly and wild lettuces, but again, by the time we'd spot them, they were too mature and bitter to eat.  You have to pick them, like you do dandelions, while they're very young.

My cute littlest boy having fun with a sticky plant...

Better known as Bedstraw or Cleavers
 They cleave to you and grab at your clothes.  We don't eat them really either because they are pretty prickly.  I suppose you could cook them and that would help.
Dock Plant

More wood violets

All species of violets are edible including the leaves and the flowers and are high in Vit.C.
Look closely for the feathery looking leaves of the Yarrow Plant...
Yarrow Up-Close with a sprig of Clover
Yarrow is medicinal too.  See it's fuzzy, lacy like leaves?  It is an easy one to spot as well.  Try making some yarrow tea, it is supposed to be good for arthritis.  You can also make a tea from fir or spruce needles which is very high in Vit. C.
Well, I'm all out of pictures for now, I didn't even get to include my favorites:  Peppercress, Purslane, Lambs Quarters, as well as Sour Grass.  Did I mention wild onions, garlic, chives and clover?  How about Pineapple Weed?  These are all easy to identify and tasty too.  I hope I've inspired you to learn some wild edible backyard plants. 
You might be wondering why Oregon pictures of edible weeds and wild plants, it's just because it's what I have on hand.  The Spring before we left Oregon, I got to share my edible weed knowledge with a group of church ladies.  A friend and I took them on a walk to teach them how to spot edible weeds and the names of each.  It was so much fun.  We made some flash cards with photos and hung them near patches of various weeds. 
I'll be adding Alaskan pictures this spring and summer.  There are a few archived on the blog here:   Alaskan Wild Edible Weed Photos We have some of the same edible weeds all the way up here in Alaska.
One last word of caution... when you're just starting out, eat just a little taste, in case you might have an allergy.  Also, look up oxalic acid and take precautions with plants in the spinach family and clovers.
There's a heap of great websites out there for identification.  Try the library and don't forget to use the agricultural section.  Farmer's must learn to identify all sorts of weeds at different stages of growth. 
Once you have a good collection of books, go on a wild edible weed hunt right in your own backyard!
I purchased a stack of "Edible Wild Food Cards" from Rainbow Resource one year and those have proved valuable for hiking and camping when I don't want to cart around books. 
Happy Hunting


  1. I've always been interested in this! The only weeds I knew we could eat in our Wyoming yard are lamb's quarters & dandelions. I had no clue about the marrow but we have lots of that! I find your blog fascinating as I lived in Wasilla, Ak. over 30 years ago & I have a son stationed at the A.F. base there near Fairbanks. You have a precious family & the child evangelism is a wonderful idea. I look forward to reading more of your posts! Love & prayers, in Jesus, Cynthia

    1. I'm so happy to hear of your interest! And a fellow Alaskan! It is amazing how many plants are just free for the eating. They have so many more nutrients than store bought as well. Yes, we know right where the A.F. Base is too, they have started clubs at the bases in Anchorage and would like to up here too. I'm so glad you found the blog, I hope you'll be encouraged in the Lord. Many blessings to you and happy edible weed hunting!