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  • Writer's pictureAndrea Wenzel

Foraging in Suburbia: What's Growing in a Yard Near You?

Updated: Apr 24, 2023



Do you ever walk around your neighborhood, see plants, and wonder what plants are edible? You might be surprised by how much food is growing everywhere. Foraging is a fantastic pastime that can be done in any location. It's great for your wallet, and it promotes a healthy lifestyle. Foraging can help you and your family survive in a time of need, or it can be a fun way to spend time with your friends and family.


Warning: before you eat any plants, be sure that you've identified them correctly. Avoid eating wild edible plants that you suspect are sprayed with pesticides or in areas where dogs poop!


Hosta Plants


While these plants are typically used as ornamental border plants, the spring shoots, before the leaves open, are the tastiest and similar to asparagus. A popular variety to eat is Montana's. Eat as a raw plant in a salad or sauté in a skillet with olive oil, salt, and pepper.



Orange lilies


Orange lily flowers can be used in any garden. They are easy to take care of by just putting them in soil and watching them bloom year after year. They are the perfect addition to any landscape! Every part of the plant, including the tubers, is edible. The tubers can be boiled like a potato, and the flowers can bring pizazz to any ordinary salad.



Lilacs


Lilacs are a popular choice for gardeners in the spring. These fragrant, purple flowering shrubs are often planted to bring color to the yard. Lilacs bloom for about a month and come in different varieties. One of their most notable characteristics is their sweet smell that fills the air with fragrance when they bloom. Lilacs are a beautiful part of the spring season and can also be used in various culinary ways.


Lilacs are used to make anything from jam to lemonade and infuse the flavors into honey.


How to Make Lilac Honey


To make a honey infusion, put lilac petals in a jar (about half to three-quarters full) and pour honey on top. Cover and allow the lilac petals to infuse into the honey for 4-6 weeks. When you're ready to taste the concoction, skim the petals off the top and enjoy!


Plantain or Plantago


Plantain is a common edible weed, and with its high anti-inflammatory properties can be used to treat scrapes and wounds. The weed is sometimes made into a salve or compress to treat pain and reduce the symptoms of arthritis. Plantago leaves are rich in vitamin C, calcium, and iron. To harvest these leaves, they should be cut off the stem just below the leaf (cutting too close will damage the leaf). The leaves can be enjoyed raw or cooked. Raw Plantago leaves can be eaten in a salad or added to soups.


Dandelions


Many find this weed to be an invasive plant in their lovely green lawns, but the whole part of the plant is edible, including the roots. Make tea, wine, and shortbreads, or throw a few pieces into a salad. It is a bit bitter on a salad, so go light at first.


There are many believed health benefits of dandelions


Dandelion tea is a popular herbal remedy used for centuries to support liver function. There are many health benefits when drinking dandelion tea. It is a natural diuretic that helps beat bloating and constipation. Dandelion tea can be consumed either hot or cold, depending on your preferences. These cheery flowers are wild and free in the spring to be harvested to make tea, but dandelion tea is sold almost everywhere all year round.


Dandelion tea is a perfect substitute for coffee.


It's great to start your morning with a clean, energizing drink. Coffee is a staple of the Western diet, but it can be hard on your stomach and lead to acid reflux. For some, dandelion tea has many of the same benefits without acid reflux.


Get Lucky with Clover


The lucky plant, or red clover, has been used throughout history to symbolize good luck. These clovers are an excellent addition to a salad or cute garnish. Clover can be consumed raw, in tea, or added to soups. The believed health benefits of eating clover range from increasing bone health, treating menopausal symptoms and menstrual cramps, reducing the risk of prostate cancer, and increasing blood flow.


Clover is considered toxic if eaten in large quantities. However, small doses can be safe and even beneficial to your health.




Chamomile


Chamomile can be found in most grocery stores, but it's also an edible weed that grows in most parts of the world. Chamomile tea is a popular herbal tea that has been used for centuries. It's easy to make and has many health benefits. To make your own chamomile tea, pick a bunch of chamomile flowers, dry them out and store them in an airtight container. You can add the dried flowers to boiling water and steep for 10 minutes before drinking or adding honey or lemon for flavor.

What are the health benefits of drinking chamomile tea?

Chamomile tea has several health benefits. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-allergenic, and anti-microbial. It can also be used to soothe itchy skin, reduce depression and promote healthy digestion.


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