The weed eater A-list
Violets: There are dozens of varieties of viola, from the tiny wild ones found springing up everywhere in cities to the pansies at your garden centre. Wild violet leaves are high in vitamin C and the flowers are pretty on a salad or cake—fresh or candied.
Garlic mustard: Leaves have a light garlic flavour and are yummy raw or cooked.
Dandelions: Oh, why do we hate this little yellow flower so? The Brits make wine from the flowers and the Greeks sauté the leaves with garlic and olive oil for a delicious dish of healthy horta. The white sap is bitter, so discard the flower stems, but the young, tender leaves are just fine in a salad. The bigger, more leathery leaves need a bit of cooking.
Sorrel: NOT to be confused with wood sorrel or oxalis, which are not good eats. Real sorrel has been a fundamental ingredient in European and African cuisine for centuries: in soups, cooked with other greens, as an herb. In small quantities it is fine, but the plant does contain minute amounts of a toxin, so an all-sorrel diet is ill-advised.
Amaranth: In North America we regard this nutritional powerhouse as a pest, but for pretty much the rest of the world, it’s a vital grain and leaf vegetable. Like quinoa, amaranth grain provides a complete protein. You might already have some in your garden and not know it. As an ornamental, it’s called love-lies-bleeding.
Violet and garlic mustard images taken by Signe Langford.