Herbs: Treasures Hiding in Plain Sight
Climbing their way through cracks in the sidewalk, sprouting up uninvited in front yards, and popping up in surprising places even in the heart of the city- these plants are often labeled as ‘weeds’ and not given a second glance. However, some of these ‘weeds’ have a host of medicinal benefits!
Here a few common weeds that may surprise you with their lesser-known potentials!
These bright and cheery yellow flowers are among the first to pop up and announce the coming of Spring. Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) are important to both the health of local bee populations and the health of the community!
While many plants only have some edible parts, Dandelions are special in that all parts of the plant are both edible and medicinal, in addition to being a plant high in antioxidants. Dandelion roots can be dried and steeped in water to make a tea or ground up to make a hearty coffee, both of which offer relief for constipation and can help to improve both appetites and cure digestive issues. The fresh flowers and greens can be added to brighten up salads or decorate cakes and bread. For magick purposes, dandelions can enhance psychic ability, and bring wishes into being .
The Green Witch on Youtube has a beautiful Lemon Dandelion Hand Pie recipe that also includes a Spiritual and Emotional Cleansing Spell .
For anyone with an interest in history, know that dandelions played an important role in early American history. Commonly turned to in times of economic trouble, dandelions were used to make free, easily accessible, and healthy salads during the Great Depression. Clara, 94-years old at the time of this video, shares a charming recipe for a historical Great Depression Dandelion Salad. Dandelion coffee was used as a pick-me-up during the Civil War- as discussed in this Dandelion Coffee recipe on the Hard Times Food Channel
Though it shares it’s common name with plantain bananas , this is a different and hearty plant that is known to be a nightmare to landscapers for its endurance. The genus Plantago has over 200 individual species that can be found throughout the world! While a hindrance to yard owners, the strikingly green leaves are delicious in a salad, and the plant is known to have medicinal qualities to aid throat and cough complications. Plantain can be used to both reduce inflammation (especially in the throat area) and promote healing . Healthline has a great article with loads more information about The Weed Plantain for those interested!
I’d like to share a (rough recreation of a) recipe I was taught when I studied with an herbalist and healer in Italy. The rolling hills of the hot Tuscan countryside had plentiful plantain (or ‘piantaggine in Italian!) which we combined with the honey from the beehives on her estate .
Plantain Honey for Sore Throats
Harvest and clean young plantain leaves
Put them in a cleansed jar
Add locally sourced honey
Let steep for at least a week
Add a spoonful of honey to warm water with lemon, or to your usual tea for added boost to fight coughs and sore throats!
Both white clover (Trifolium repens) and red clover (Trifolium pratense) have beautiful puff-ball flowers and are commonly found in many places around the world. They can be recognized by their symbolic leaves with 3 (or, if you are very lucky- 4 ) leaves. Clover can be used to purify the blood and can aid in respiratory illnesses. While the taste of white clover and red clover flowers differ slightly, they can both be eaten raw. As a child, I used to sit in the fields and suck out the sweet honey-like nectar contained in each of the small petals!
Homespun Seasonal Living has a lovely recipe for Strawberry White Clover Cookies . And Common Sense Home has a very thorough guide to Red Clover, including medicinal benefits and uses as well as a delicious recipe for Red Clover Jelly.
Don’t Forget- Safety First!
If you are harvesting herbs in public or unfamiliar places, be sure that:
You are certain the plant is what you think it is. Always cross-check with resources (such as online plant databases), or a trusted herbalist or wild forager .
The conditions make it safe to consume! It is not a good idea to eat plants that grew in a place where pesticides or chemicals were sprayed. Always thoroughly wash the plants you collect to keep yourself safe from potential contaminants .
And as with all medicines, it never hurts to do research and consider checking with your doctor and/or a trusted herbalist to make sure an herb is a good fit for you and your unique body
Whether you’ve safely collected them or grown them yourself, Dandelion, Plantain, and White/Red Clover have a surprising host of medicinal benefits and are very versatile herbs that can be a delightful addition to your recipes!
Have you used these plants before?
- White/Red Clover
- These herbs are new to me
Are you a Green Witch or a Kitchen Witch? Do you have other herb recommendations to share? Please feel free to share your knowledge and experiences below!
May you always have the resources you need for your craft, and may your magick guide you to find treasures in unexpected places!