Tag Archives: food

Turkey Rhubarb -Acetosa sagittata

Latin Name: Acetosa sagittata













Description: A creeper, keeps growing from year to year up to 2 m high. The leaves are smooth and arrow-shaped. They are 3-7 cm long. They are pale green and soft. The flowers develop clusters of papery capsules about 1 cm wide changing from pale green to reddish-brown when mature.

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Sowthistle -Sonchus spp

Latin Name: Sonchus spp













Description: An erect annual hairy herb with a milky sap. It is 40 to 60 cm high, bluish-green, the leaves are alternate, do not have stalks and half clasp the stem. Leaves are 10 to 20 cm long and very coarsely lobed. Flower heads are about 1 cm long and yellow. The fruit is dry and 3 ribbed, it opens to a round white ball. The seeds blow in the wind.

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Scurvy weed -Commelina cyanea

Latin Name: Commelina cyanea













Description: A weak straggling herb. It is an evergreen plant, grows to 30 cm high and spreads to 2 m across. The stems are weak and fleshy, and lie along the ground forming roots at the nodes. The leaves are green or blue, and sword shaped, 3-7 cm long, by 2 cm across. They form a sheath at the base. The flowers are bright blue, with 3 petals, 1.5 cm across. The flowers are carried on a branched flower stalk and open in the morning to then collapse by afternoon.

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Ribwort Plantain (Plantago lanceolata)

Latin Name: Plantago lanceolata

Description: A herb which keeps growing from year to year. It has a well developed taproot. The leaves have stalks. The leaves are 2.5-30 cm long. They are sword shaped and taper to the tip. They can have teeth along the edge. The leaves have 3-7 easy to see veins running along them. The leaves have soft slender hairs. The flower stalks do not have leaves. The flower stalk is usually longer than the leaves. The flower stalk is usually deeply furrowed. The flowers are yellowish.













Notes: Considered to be an indicator of agriculture in pollen diagrams, P. lanceolata has been found in western Norway from the Early Neolithic onwards. Something that is considered to be an indicator of grazing in that area.

Edible Uses: Young leaves – raw or cooked. They are rather bitter and very tedious to prepare, the fibrous strands are best removed prior to eating. The very young leaves are somewhat better and are less fibrous. Seed – cooked. Used like sagod. The seed can be ground into a powder and added to flours when making bread, cakes or whatever.

Plantago lanceolata











Medicinal Uses:  Antibacterial; Antidote; Astringent; Demulcent; Expectorant; Haemostatic; Laxative; Ophthalmic; Poultice.

Medicinal Information: Ribwort plantain is a safe and effective treatment for bleeding, it quickly staunches blood flow and encourages the repair of damaged tissue. The leaves contain mucilage, tannin and silic acid. An extract of them has antibacterial properties. They have a bitter flavour and are astringent, demulcent, mildly expectorant, haemostatic and ophthalmic. Internally, they are used in the treatment of a wide range of complaints including diarrhoea, gastritis, peptic ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, haemorrhage, haemorrhoids, cystitis, bronchitis, catarrh, sinusitis, asthma and hay fever. They are used externally in treating skin inflammations, malignant ulcers, cuts, stings etc. The heated leaves are used as a wet dressing for wounds, swellings etc. The root is a remedy for the bite of rattlesnakes, it is used in equal portions with Marrubium vulgare. The seeds are used in the treatment of parasitic worms. Plantain seeds contain up to 30% mucilage which swells up in the gut, acting as a bulk laxative and soothing irritated membranes. Sometimes the seed husks are used without the seeds. A distilled water made from the plant makes an excellent eye lotion.












Other Uses:  Dye; Fibre; Starch.

A good fibre is obtained from the leaves, it is said to be suitable for textiles. A mucilage obtained by macerating the seed in hot water used as a fabric stiffener. Gold and brown dyes are obtained from the whole plant.



Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)

Latin Name: Portulaca oleracea


Description: A spreading branched herb. It lies flat on the ground. It grows each year from seed. The plants spread 10 to 50 cm wide. The stems are purplish. The leaves are fleshy, flat and shaped like a wedge at the base. They are 1.5 to 2.5 cm long and 0.3-1 cm wide. The flowers are yellow and occur in a few rounded heads. They are 0.8-1.5 cm across. They bloom about the middle of the day. The capsules are 0.5 cm long and oval. The seeds are black and shiny.

Notes: Widely used in East Mediterranean countries, archaeobotanical finds are common at many prehistoric sites. In historic contexts, seeds have been retrieved from a protogeometric layer in Kastanas, as well as from the Samian Heraion dating to seventh century B.C. In the fourth century B.C., Theophrastus names purslane, andrákhne (ἀνδράχνη), as one of the several summer pot herbs that must be sown in April. As portulaca it figures in the long list of comestibles enjoyed by the Milanese given by Bonvesin de la Riva in his “Marvels of Milan” (1288).
In antiquity, its healing properties were thought so reliable that Pliny advised wearing the plant as an amulet to expel all evil.
A common plant in parts of India, purslane is known as Sanhti, Punarva, or Kulfa.

Portulaca oleracea

Edibility Rating out of 5: 4

Medicinal Rating out of 5: 3

Edible Uses: Leaves and stems – raw or cooked. The young leaves are a very acceptable addition to salads, their mucilaginous quality also making them a good substitute for okra as a thickener in soups. Older leaves are used as a potherb and have a somewhat sour, spicy and salty taste. Purslane is eaten throughout much of Europe, the middle east, Asia, and Mexico. The stems, leaves and flower buds are all edible. Australian Aborigines use the seeds to make seedcakes. Greeks, who call it andrakla (αντράκλα) or glystrida (γλυστρίδα), fry the leaves and the stems with feta cheese, tomato, onion, garlic, oregano, and olive oil, add it in salads, boil it or add to casseroled chicken. In Turkey, besides being used in salads and in baked pastries, it is cooked as a vegetable similar to spinach. In Albania it is called burdullak, and also is used as a vegetable similar to spinach, mostly simmered and served in olive oil dressing, or mixed with other ingredients as a filling for dough layers of byrek. In the south of Portugal (Alentejo), “baldroegas” are used as a soup ingredient. Because of its high water content Purslane cooks down quite a bit. Pick more than you think you will need. Makes a quick cold soup in hot weather by cooking and blending together with other vegetables.The leaves are a source of omega-3 fatty acids and can be dried for later use. The leaves contain per 100g ZMB. 245 – 296 calories, 17.6 – 34.5g protein, 2.4 – 5.3g fat, 35.5 – 63.2g carbohydrate, 8.5 – 14.6g fibre, 15.9 – 24.7g ash, 898 – 2078mg calcium, 320 – 774mg phosphorus, 11.2 – 46.7mg iron, 55mg sodium, 505 – 3120mg potassium, 10560 – 20000ug B-carotene equivalent, 0.23 – 0.48mg thiamine, 1.12 – 1.6mg riboflavin, 5.58 – 6.72mg niacin and 168 – 333mg ascorbic acid. Seed – raw or cooked. The seed can be ground into a powder and mixed with cereals for use in gruels, bread, pancakes etc. The seed is rather small and fiddly to utilize. In arid areas of Australia the plants grow quite large and can produce 10, 000 seeds per plant, a person can harvest several pounds of seed in a day. The seeding plants are uprooted and placed in a pile on sheets or something similar, in a few days the seeds are shed and can be collected from the sheet. The seed contains (per 100g ZMB) 21g protein, 18.9g fat 3.4g ash. Fatty acids of the seeds are 10.9% palmitic, 3.7% stearic, 1.3% behenic, 28.7% oleic, 38.9% linoleic and 9.9% linolenic. The ash of burnt plants is used as a salt substitute.


Medicinal Uses: Antiscorbutic; Depurative; Diuretic; Febrifuge; Skin; Tonic; Vermifuge.

Medicinal Information: The plant is antibacterial, antiscorbutic, depurative, diuretic and febrifuge. The leaves are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which is thought to be important in preventing heart attacks and strengthening the immune system. The fresh juice is used in the treatment of strangury, coughs, sores etc. The leaves are poulticed and applied to burns, both they and the plant juice are particularly effective in the treatment of skin diseases and insect stings. A tea made from the leaves is used in the treatment of stomach aches and headaches. The leaf juice is applied to earaches, it is also said to alleviate caterpillar stings. The leaves can be harvested at any time before the plant flowers, they are used fresh or dried. This remedy is not given to pregnant women or to patients with digestive problems. The seeds are tonic and vermifuge. They are prescribed for dyspepsia and opacities of the cornea.

Other Uses: As a companion plant, Purslane provides ground cover to create a humid microclimate for nearby plants, stabilizing ground moisture. Its deep roots bring up moisture and nutrients that those plants can use, and some, including corn, will “follow” purslane roots down through harder soil that they cannot penetrate on their own (ecological facilitation). It is known as a beneficial weed in places that do not already grow it as a crop in its own right.




Potato weed (Galinsoga parviflora)

Latin Name: Galinsoga parviflora






Description: An annual herb. It grows to 75 cm high and has a spread of 50 cm. The stem is erect and much branched. The stem is rather weak. The leaves are oval and opposite. The leaves have leaf stalks are the leaves are toothed around the edge. The flowers are small and daisy like. They occur in small clusters and have white rays and a yellow disk. The flowers are produced in the axils of the upper leaves.

Edibility Rating out of 5: 2

Medicinal Rating out of 5: 1

Edible Uses: The leaves, stem and flowering shoots – raw or cooked and eaten as a potherb, or added to soups and stews. They can be dried and ground into a powder then used as a flavouring in soups etc. A bland but very acceptable food, it makes a fine salad either on its own or mixed with other leaves. The fresh juice can be mixed and drunk with tomato or vegetable juices.

Galinsoga parviflora







Warnings: The plant is considered to be poisonous to goats.

Medicinal Uses: Astringent; Stings.

Medicinal Information: When rubbed onto the body, the plant is useful in treating nettle stings. The juice of the plant is applied to treat wounds, It helps to coagulate the blood of fresh cuts and wounds.















Paddy’s lucerne (Sida rhombifolia)

Latin Name: Sida rhombifolia

Description: A herb or small shrub. It grows 1-1.5 m tall. It is very hairy. It has many branches. The leaf stalk is 3-5 mm long. The leaf blade is sword shaped and 2.2-4.5 cm long by 0.6-2 cm wide. The flowers occur singly in the axils of leaves. They are yellow and about 1 cm across. The fruit is half round and 6-7 mm across.










Notes: This species is usually confined to waste ground, such as roadsides and rocky areas, stock camps or rabbit warrens, but can be competitive in pasture, due to its unpalatability to livestock.

Edibility Rating out of 5: 1

Medicinal Rating out of 5: 3

Sida rhombifolia











Edible Uses: The leaves are used to make a tea drink and eaten as a vegetable. Chemical analysis revealed that the leaves contain respectable amounts of nutrients: 74,000 to 347,000 ppm protein, 94,000 to 475,000 ppm carbohydrates, 33,000 to 167,000 ppm fiber, 14,000 to 71,000 ppm fat, and 16,000 to 81,000 ppm ash. However, it was reported that the root contained 450 ppm alkaloids and the presence of ephedrine and saponin. Another source reports an alkaloid content in the root of 0.1 percent and the presence of choline, pseudoephedrine, beta-phenethylamine, vascin, hipaphorine and related indole alkaloids. Perhaps because of these chemicals, arrowleaf sida is unpalatable to cattle.

Medicinal Information: Arrowleaf sida has significant medicinal applications for which it is cultivated throughout India. The pounded leaves are used to relieve swelling,the fruits are used to relieve headache, the mucilage is used as an emollient, and the root is used to treat rheumatism. Australian Aborigines use the herb to treat diarrhea. Leaves are smoked in Mexico and a tea is prepared in India for the stimulation it provides.













Other Uses: The stems are used as rough cordage, sacking, and for making brooms. The stems have a high quality fiber and were once exported from India and elsewhere as “hemp”.



Mat Rush (Lomandra)

Latin Name: Lomandra

Description: A tussock or rush like plant. It grows 1 m high. It spread 60 cm to 1 m wide. It keeps growing from year to year. The root system is crowded into a clump. The leaves are long and narrow. They are tough but flexible. They can be 1 m long by 1 cm wide. They have flat or slightly in-rolled edges. Male and female flowers are on separate plants. They are tiny and cream coloured. They are about 4 mm long and grouped in clusters 1-2 cm long. These are also grouped along flattened flowering branches 60 cm long. There is a sharp pointed spiny bract 2 cm long at the base of each flower. They flowers are fragrant.















Notes: This strappy leaf plant is often used on roadside plantings in Australia, New Zealand, Spain, and the USA, due to its high level of drought tolerance. The breeding of more compact finer leaf forms has made Lomandra longifolia popular as an ever green grass like plant in home plantings.

Edibility Rating out of 5: 2

Medicinal Rating out of 5: 0












Edible Uses: Flowers – raw. A flavour of fresh peas. Both sexes are used though the male flowers are easier to harvest. White leaf bases – raw. A flavour of green peas, they are refreshing and enjoyable.

Other Uses: Basketry; Fibre; Weaving.

The leaves contain a tough fibre and they are used in basket making and in weaving. This fibre can also be made into a string.



Flickweed (Cardamine hirsuta)

Latin Name: Cardamine Hirsuta


A cabbage family herb.  It is an annual or perennial plant.  It forms a rosette or ring of leaves.  It grows to a height of 30 cm and spreads to 30 cm.  The stem is erect and the leaves are green and sword shaped.  They usually have 3-7 pairs of leaflets.  The flowers are pale mauve and small.  They have 4 petals.  They occur in clusters at the ends of branches.  The fruits are 15-25 mm long pods, which are narrow and erect.  They are about 1 mm thick.  The seeds are brown and with a smooth coat.  They are about 1 mm long.














As Old English stune, the plant is cited as one of the herbs invoked in the pagan Anglo-Saxon Nine Herbs Charm, recorded in the 10th century.

Edibility Rating out of 5: 3

Medicinal Rating out of 5: 0

Cardamine hirsuta











Edible Uses: Leaves and flowers – raw or cooked. A hot cress-like flavour, they are mainly used as a garnish or flavouring in salads etc but are also sometimes used as a potherb. The plant germinates most freely in the autumn and so leaves are usually available all winter.



Fat Hen (Chenopodium album)

Latin Name: Chenopodium album

Description:  An annual plant, it grows to 1-2 m high and spreads to 1 m across.  The stem is erect, succulent and without hairs and they often have soft mealy lumps which can be rubbed off.  The leaves are simple, with one at each node, and occurring alternately up the stem.  The leaves are oval and wedge shaped with saw like edges, 5-12 cm long by 3-10 cm wide.  The leaf stalk is usually shorter than the leaf blade.  The under surface of the leaf often has a white mealy layer which can be rubbed off.   The flowers occur in dense white spikes and occur at the tip and ends of branches.  The fruit is a pod, small, roundish and papery and it opens around the tip.  The pod contains a shiny black seed 1.2-1.8 mm across.   Seeds can occur in very large numbers.













Notes: In India, the plant is popularly called bathua and found abundantly in the winter season. The leaves and young shoots of this plant are used in dishes such as soups, curries, and paratha-stuffed breads, especially popular in Punjab. The seeds or grains are used in phambra or laafi, gruel-type dishes in Himachal Pradesh, and in mildly alcoholic fermented beverages such as soora and ghanti.

Edibility Rating out of 5: 3

Medicinal Rating out of 5: 2

Edible Uses: Young flowers are cooked and eaten.

The sprouted seeds are edible.  Leaves – raw or cooked, a very acceptable spinach substitute, the taste is a little bland but this can be improved by adding a few stronger-flavoured leaves. One report says that, when eaten with beans, the leaves will act as a carminative to prevent wind and bloating. The leaves are best not eaten raw, see the notes below on toxicity. The leaves are generally very nutritious but very large quantities can disturb the nervous system and cause gastric pain. The leaves contain about 3.9% protein, 0.76% fat, 8.93% carbohydrate, 3% ash. Edible seed – dried and ground into a meal and eaten raw or baked into a bread. The seed can also be sprouted and added to salads. The seed is rather small but very easy to harvest and simple enough to utilize. The seed should be soaked in water overnight and thoroughly rinsed before being used in order to remove any saponins. The seed contains about 49% carbohydrate, 16% protein, 7% ash, 5.88% ash. Young inflorescences – cooked. A tasty broccoli substitute.











Warnings: The leaves and seeds of all members of this genus are more or less edible. However, many of the species in this genus contain saponins, though usually in quantities too small to do any harm. Although toxic, saponins are poorly absorbed by the body and most pass straight through without any problem. They are also broken down to a large extent in the cooking process. Saponins are found in many foods, such as some beans. The plants also contain some oxalic acid, which in large quantities can lock up some of the nutrients in the food, but these plants are very nutritious vegetables in reasonable quantities. Cooking the plant will reduce its content of oxalic acid. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition. A report says that if the plant is grown in soils that contain too much nitrates then the plant can concentrate these substances in the leaves.

Chenopodium album











Medicinal Uses: 

Anthelmintic;  Antiphlogistic;  Antirheumatic;  Contraceptive;  Laxative;  Odontalgic.

Medicinal Information: Fat hen is not employed in herbal medicine, though it does have some gentle medicinal properties and is a very nutritious and healthy addition to the diet. The leaves are anthelmintic, antiphlogistic, antirheumatic, mildly laxative, odontalgic. An infusion is taken in the treatment of rheumatism. The leaves are applied as a wash or poultice to bug bites, sunstroke, rheumatic joints and swollen feet, whilst a decoction is used for carious teeth. The seeds are chewed in the treatment of urinary problems and are considered useful for relieving the discharge of semen through the urine. The juice of the stems is applied to freckles and sunburn. The juice of the root is used in the treatment of bloody dysentery. Food that comprises 25.5% of the powdered herb may suppress the oestrus cycle.

Other Uses: 

A green dye is obtained from the young shoots. The crushed fresh roots are a mild soap substitute. The stalk of the mature plant is harvested and used as a strong and flexible walking stick.