What are weeds anyway.

Are these weeds useful?

As this week starts with “National Weed your garden day” (wouldn’t it be great if it only needed doing one day a year!?) we thought we’d have a look at whether the weeds that blight our gardens can be useful?

Starting with our old friend, the nettle

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The source of many a childhood red rash as we dashed into the undergrowth to retrieve a lost football – only to be stung by the protective spines on the nettle plant. Lately, we’ve seen Nettle tea popping up in supermarkets and we’ve seen recipes for Nettle soup too (not enough cake in Nettle soup!). Medically, parts of the plant can be used to treat  anaemia, arthritis, asthma, burns, eczema, infections, inflammations, kidney stones, prostate enlargement, rheumatism and  urinary problems.

 

Next we’ll have a look at Burdock

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Again, many a childhood memory of drinking glasses of Dandelion & Burdock. The root of the burdock is a really popular foodstuff – used frequently in Japanese cooking – but medically, it can be used as a detoxing herb and is apparently very effective for skin problems.

Following hot on the heels is our friend the Dandelion

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale agg.) footpath near to Home Barn Farm Sapcote SP 4900 9197 (taken 7.5.2008)

We spend long summers trying to rid our gardens and lawns of the bright yellow flowers – but as well as being mixed with Burdock for a refreshing drink, It supports overall health by gently working to improve the functioning of the liver, gallbladder, and urinary and digestive systems.

Red Poppies

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Are not only pretty to look at and helpful to remind us of the sacrifices made during the world conflicts – but they are also medically useful as a sedative – relieving pain and helping you sleep – without the narcotic effects that the Opium Poppy has.

Sticking with the red theme – Red Clover

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(which is actually more pinky/purple) is another well developed plant that frequents many a garden, meadow or field.  It is used for chronic constipation, skin complaints and bronchitis, it can also help to balance hormone levels during the menopause, relieving symptoms such as hot flushes.

How about our friend, the Bramble?

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We all know that we can pick the fruit of the bramble (blackberries) and make them into a pie or a crumble (served with thick vanilla custard, thank you!) but what else can you do with the plant that invades any spare space in the garden and takes hold quickly? In the summer, the leaves of the bramble can be harvested for making into tea or infused oils to treat bumps and bruises. The infused oil can be added to a basic cream to help to treat haemorrhoids too! The blackberry fruit itself is high in antioxidants and they can be made into a remedy to ease the symptoms of gout!

 

There are many plants that we consider to be weeds or unwelcome in our gardens or open spaces – but perhaps this will make you look at them in a fonder light – knowing that they aren’t all bad. We don’t recommend that you try making any herbal remedies yourself without some guidance. Julie Bruton Seal has written a book called “Hedgerow Medicine” that is useful to explore the healing properties of some of the more common plants/weeds, and for further help, there is the Herb Society of the UK.