Episode-945- Weeds that aren’t Weeds and Other Unusal Edibles

Nope it isn't Lambsquarters it is Huauzontle (Wah-Zont-Lay)

Nope it isn’t Lambsquarters it is Huauzontle (Wah-Zont-Lay)

Recently I posted a photo on facebook included here in the show notes.  The photo is of a plant called huauzontle (pronounced wah-zont-lay), a relative of lambsquarters.  While only one person guessing the plant species got it right what actually surprised me was they crescendo of the use of the word “weed”.

Sometimes I sit and wonder if tomatoes and peppers and lettuce just grew in large swaths on their own would we call them weed too?  For example this so called weed huauzontle has actually been cultivated for centuries and is currently “en vogue” with many Mexican gardeners in LA.

I find it interesting that many of the plants I purposely plant in my garden like lambsquartes, huauzontle and purslane are classified as weeds by so many others.  Am I just so weirdo that likes “weeds” or is there something more to it?  Many of these plants are great eating, easy to cultivate and pack a great nutritional punch.  Many are also great for livestock, wildlife support, predator habitat and still others do all of the above.

Join Me Today As We Discuss the Merits of These Unusual Edible Plants

Resources for Today’s Show

Some of My Favorite Small Seed Suppliers to Find Unusual StuffThese are a group of small seed houses where I have found many unusual and all but lost to time seed varieties and species.

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41 Responses to Episode-945- Weeds that aren’t Weeds and Other Unusal Edibles

  1. I have been eating all the perslane I can find in my garden. I used to see it as just a week that grew too fast. Now I can’t seem to find anymore of it because as soon as it’s spotted, someone in the household is eating it.

    Interesting article about it and the health benefits.

    http://foodscience.wikispaces.com/Purslane

  2. Correction…A weed, not a week!!!

  3. Brent Eamer

    One I tried to grow but I think the seeds were too old was Epazote

  4. When I was a kid, growing up on Staten Island, my mom mortified us by knocking on the door of a stranger and asking if she could take some seeds from their red shisho (perilla) that they were growing as an ornamental in their front yard. Red Perilla is used in Japan as a flavor/color when they make pickled Ume plums, as well as being eaten as a pickle by itself. Koreans will use it instead of lettuce with wrap bulgogi (Korean bbq) It’s delicious. I started growing it this year myself but can’t get the red to take off. The green perilla is taking over my backyard!

  5. The lambquarter in my garden grows over 6′ tall. Grew on its own did not transplant

  6. Huazontle, sounds delicious. Decided to look up some videos of recipes.

    http://youtu.be/-QuCtG6r1V8

    The lady explains: Dip it in batter and fry it. Then drizzle it with tomatillo sauce, creme fraiche aka clabbered milk and fresh cheese. Then wrap it around a fresh corn tortilla (You can also spot some squash blosson flowers for taco fillings as well….real mexican food is amazing).

    That sounds like some good eats and also, they seem to pronouncing it “huazon-cle”. The “cl” sound is more of a click. Actually, yes…it’s the same sound as the one in “cli-ck” except with an e instead of an i.

  7. Interesting subjects coinciding again. ;)
    A buddy was just showing me this guy:
    Free Living 101 – Total Self Sufficiency (Garry Tibbo). A good watch. Maybe you can get him to do an interview. For the past 12 years he’s eaten only this way. Quite interesting. As we know Dandelions are a very good example!

  8. SwitchThrottle

    I was looking at the seed list, and couldn’t help thinking that millet looked familiar. In pet stores I believe a variety of millet is sold as parrot/bird treats. It looks like foxtail.

  9. Jack,

    I had to laugh when you were talking about your wife and the string trimmer. At our house, it’s the other way around. The kids and I are dealing with the garden and my husband keeps threatening to mow it down because it looks like the rest of the yard. (Yeah, there’s a lot of grass in the “garden”, but with this drought, I really think the grass is hurting anything, especially since we’re watering everything by hand.) Because his plant identification gives him the ability to tell grass from trees and little else, he’s all too eager to cut, whack, chop, or burn stuff down so that things’ll look better. Being blind, I don’t care about how things “look”; I’m just thrilled to get some things out of my grassy garden. :)

    The one “weed” that we have tons of around here is Queen Anne’s lace. It’s EVERYWHERE! I know we can eat the taproot, but I’m not brave enough to consider it since it so closely resembles hemlock.

    Excellent show and great timing for a plant/gardening newbie like myself. Thanks so much!

  10. Sumac is also used in an Arab spice mix called za’atar. It’s what gives it its “tangy” flavor and is not the same without it. In the Middle East we also used sumac to flavor all kinds of foods. It’s very pretty and gives everything a great taste. Funny enough, when I came to the States and heard about “poison sumac,” I never put the two together.

  11. I think I have annoying pokey inedible amaranth growing in my back yard.

  12. Last year I was picking purslane that was coming up all over the garden and selling it for 3.00$ a pint- I sold 10 pints the first week, and people were coming every week asking for it- we never could find enough in our garden to meet the demand. Maybe this year I will volunteer to weed at the CSA down the road….

  13. Matthew in Gooseneck Ga

    Outstanding show! Great show! I am so excited to eat the weeds! If I ordered seeds now could I plant them now? Or better to wait till next spring? Anyone? I am zone 8 Georgia.

  14. Here in Southern Utah our version of sumac is called Squaw Bush or Lemonade Bush. Dunno the botanical name but it’s probably related to the larger trees back East and works the same way. It’s also used for basket weaving and is a beautiful dark red in the fall. We’re lucky to have them growing all over the canyon.

  15. This has been an AWESOME week for shows. Thank You Jack

  16. Really enjoyed this one, Jack. Funny thing is I made sumac tea for the first time this past week. Good stuff and my little one liked it, too.

  17. Jack it’s funny you should mention growing weeds. I just moved to a new place and one of the first things I did was walk the yard to see what herbs (weeds) I had. The yard is full of ground ivy (cats foot) but no plantain. I think I’ll be the first person in the neighborhood actually transplanting a weed (herb) into his yard.

  18. I love this episode. My aunt and uncle have some land they do nothing with and they have given me permission to experiment. Now my mind is racing with ideas. Thanks!!

  19. So, whats is the best book to ID edible plants?

  20. Just finished listening to the show, it got me thinking. I wonder if you could use the birdhouse gourds for your air budding technique.

  21. the weed article reminds meof a name some may know
    Ewell Gibbons from near my native home state.
    anyone else remember him and his books?

  22. We have lots of plantain–two kinds actually. It’s GREAT for bee stings. We crush the leaves till juicy and pack on the sting. Reduces swelling and itching.

  23. Another very good resource are the older DVDs by Dr. Jim Duke “Edible Wild Plants”. Very informative, tons of details and plenty of visuals. Takes you on walks in real-world environments, shows the plant , explains how to prepare or eat and all the benefits. Also the plants to avoid. Highly recommended. Of course, as already mentioned, youtube as well.

  24. We have Giant Ragweed here in central Texas that grows hardily up to 10+ foot high.

    We let it grow in between every few rows as a sun shade, and out in the far reaches of the yard as fodder. Our goats browse on the bottom halfs of it, and once it starts to flower, I begin cutting it down for the goats to eat in a paddock. This prevents rampant pollenizing, the goats love it, and it creates concentrated fertility in that paddocked area for future gardening. The stalks, when dried and stiff are also useful as reeds for wattle in poultry wire to keep it upright.

    It’s really satisfying when you can take a problem and turn it into a solution.

  25. goathollerguy

    Loved the show, definately need to listen again. I cannot find anything on the web/youtube about air budding with a pop bottle. Can anyone help?

    • @goathollarguy I was also confused when I listened to the show as I understood the process as I have tried it many times and I think Jack meant “Air Layering”. If you search on youtube or a search engine it will give you plenty of articles and different Plants to try the technique on. a good place to start is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uwq5CrMjDc Cheers

  26. Cider Monkey

    Jack, great show – thanks. You continue to amaze with your breadth of knowledge.

    I think the best definition of “weed” I ever heard was that it is “a plant growing where you don’t want it.” There is a right time and place for everything.

    For instance, I love raspberries and here at our place they grow like…well, you guessed it. When you’ve got more than you can pick, and they are spreading into areas where you don’t want a thick hedge of canes, you can begin to think of them as weeds. Not that I’m complaining, I really enjoy them as much as any berry. I recognize the easy ways to turn this “problem” into a resource. I’ll just have to get around to that. ;-)

  27. Great show. Thanks for putting all the plants in the show notes. I quickly gave up trying to remember them while listening in the car.

    I do find it ironic. When I had a lawn, I didn’t appreciate it. Now that I would love to have “weeds” growing, I have to use an irrigated bed for anything I want. Lousy desert.

  28. Brent Eamer

    I listened to this episode while walking to the greenhouse and lo and behold, a giant Lambs Quarters plant, so I ripped of a few leaves and ate them. No need to go into the house for a snack. They are now starting form seed heads.

  29. I am curious about rose hips. My bushes give little tiny ones (I tasted today, was like a sweet tiny nut). Any experience with rose hips? Also, juniper berries. Can I use anything that looks like a juniper berry off of an evergreen tree or shrub?

  30. Are there any good books that have this sort of detailed information on these and other plants? If not books, how about web sites? Thanks!

  31. Hey Jack listening to the show I had an idea. If sumac has a lemony taste try making some Sumac margaritas! I going to look around Im here I can find Sumac somewhere.

    • Modern Survival

      @James that idea intrigues me. That said it is way more lemon then lime, but hmmm, sumac infused water, ice and good vodka shaken over ice and into a martini glass, well, um, yea that might be pretty damn good.

  32. Absolutely LOVED this episode Jack! I’m looking for a new place to live too, and many of these plants (even the crazy-kudzu) are being added to my list of what will be grown. Great job, and keep learning! :)

  33. In So. Cal and Arizona we have what we call Sugar Bush also called Sugar Sumac. Has the same uses as your sumac. Leaves can ba chewed for vitamin C content too.

  34. CulexPipiens

    I like dandelions. My wife doesn’t. That all changed this year. I tried a new recipe and she loves it so now dandelions are a “good” plant. The recipe is dandelion jelly/syrup.

    2 cups of dandelion blossoms (just the yellow part)
    2 cups water
    1 cup sugar
    2 teaspoons lemon juice
    1 1/4 teaspoons pectin.

    Boil the blossoms in the water for 10 minutes. Strain out. Add the sugar, mix to dissolve. Add the lemon juice and pectin. Follow directions on your pectin for how much longer to cook. Pour in jars and use canning methods to preserve. If it sets up you have jelly. If it doesn’t call it syrup and put it on pancakes. Either way it’s a nice golden color and tastes like a cross between honey and a hint of green tea.

  35. Pingback: Weeds and Rice | Prepare PDX

  36. lisapaintergirl

    Jack,
    great show!
    I also love lamb’s quarter added into soup-it gives the broth such a rich flavor.
    And sumac makes a great hot tea as well. (I’m in zone 5) and the sumac can be harvested into the winter- an awesome source of winter vitamin C.

    You mentioned separating Day Lilly bulbs, but didn’t mention their edibility. The bulbs, young sprouts, and flowers are all edible. The young sprouts in the spring are great in a stir fry and to me taste like a cross between asparagus and cucumber. Very tasty.