8 Surprising Edible Plants

For many years, people have been removing plants they consider to be “weeds” from their gardens. Some of these are actually edible plants. Learn more here.
8 Surprising Edible Plants
Sofía Quintana Alonso

Reviewed and approved by the physiotherapist Sofía Quintana Alonso.

Last update: 15 December, 2022

For many years, a lot of people have been removing plants that are considered to be “weeds” from their yards and gardens. What they don’t know is that long ago, many of them were used in cooking because they are edible plants that contain essential nutrients.

Even though they’re not as popular as traditional herbs, they are edible plants. Some even have exotic flavors that taste good in many different dishes. That’s why you should let them grow instead of pulling them out. Want to try them out? Take a look at the following 8 edible plants:

1 – Wild chard (Beta vulgaris)

Wild chard is one of our edible plants.
Wild chard can grow in both fertile and semi-fertile areas. It’s common to find it in uncultivated yards of industrial areas and along roadsides.
  • This plant is high in vitamins and minerals, even more so than the cultivated variety of chard.
  • In addition, it’s less likely have any chemical residue.

2 – Nettle (Urtica dioica)

Nettle is a plant used in natural medicine since it has the power to help with numerous health issues. However, the leaves can sting you, which is quite odd for an edible plant. After it’s cooked in temperatures above 60 C (140F), the stinging substance disappears and it becomes edible.

  • Boiled nettle can be added to soups, enchiladas, or potato dishes, for example.

3 – Juniper (Juniperus communis) berries

Juniper is one of our edible plants.
Juniper is a tree with needle-like leaves and lilac-colored fruit. People used to use this fruit for making gin, but today few people use juniper. You can use this fruit as seasoning for stews, meats, and sauces.
  • Collect some juniper berries and add them to the aforementioned dishes for a very appealing woodsy aroma.

4 – Sweet lettuce (Reichardia picroides)

Sweet lettuce is a perennial plant that grows in loamy terrain. The edible parts are the leaves at the base of the plant just before its flowers.

  • These leaves can be used as a salad ingredient.
  • In fact, they taste good all by themselves. They’re mild but have a pleasant taste.

5 – White wallrocket (Diplotaxis erucoides)

White wallrocket is one of our edible plants.
This wild plant grows among vines and olive trees, and is known for its white flowers. It belongs to the same family as cabbage and broccoli, and the leaves have a similar flavor. Its flower is mainly used in cooking because it has a slight mustard taste.
  • By crushing it and adding some oil, it makes a good salad dressing.

6 – Colleja (Silene vulgaris)

This “weed” hasn’t been totally forgotten. It’s still used in certain Spanish recipes. It grows around cultivated areas and it used to be difficult to get rid of. However, today most of it has been eliminated by herbicides. Its young leaves can be used in cooking and its flavor is somewhat similar to spinach, even though they have nothing else in common.

  • It’s often used in omelets and can be used in salads or even boiled, just like any other leafy vegetable.

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7 – Sweet chicory (Chondrilla juncea)

This plant normally grows in dry or in orchards that aren’t often irrigated. When the plant is small, it looks like the common dandelion. Once grown, yellow flowers will blossom.

  • The leaves are edible and taste great in salads.

Wild fennel grows along roadsides, but there is also a cultivated variety. It’s a fibrous plant that must be cut into small pieces before you eat it. It can be mixed with green sprouts, pasta, legumes, and more.

  • The anise flavor adds a fresh taste to salads.
  • It can also be added to juices to improve digestion.
  • The seeds are perfect for flavoring certain dishes.

Important: Before eating any of these edible plants, be sure they’re the right ones. You should also find out how to prepare them and what parts are edible. If they’ve been growing in an area exposed to chemicals, it’s better not to eat them.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Biurrun, E., Galetto, L., Anton, A. M., & Biurrun, F. (2007). Plantas silvestres comestibles utilizadas en poblaciones rurales de la Provincia de La Rioja (Argentina). Kurtziana33(1), 121-140.
  • Genders, R. (1988). Plantas silvestres comestibles; frutos, bayas, raíces, brotes. Blume, SA.
  • Van den Eynden, V., Cueva, E., & Cabrera, O. (1999). Plantas silvestres comestibles del sur del Ecuador. Editorial Abya Yala.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.