Use Your Horse Sense to Find Wonderful Weeds

horses-eating-edible-weedsToday, I noticed our horses eating weeds. They have plenty of grass to eat, so, I figured that these weeds must be good for them. One horse was eating great wads of stinging nettles, and I already knew a little about nettles. The other horse, I discovered, was nibbling away on a weed called common mallow. Its Latin name is Malva neglecta. I pulled out a couple of handfuls and headed home to research it. I decided to do an online search of ‘images of edible weeds in Canada’. Lo’ and behold, common mallow is indeed an edible weed. The entire plant is edible.

Thanks to bloggers on the internet I swiftly learned much about common mallow. There are no warnings about how much you can eat. It is non-toxic. It has many beneficial health aspects. Some experienced writers recommended sauteing it in garlic and butter… that caught my eye. Also, they said folks like to make a salad out of it. So, I made a salad out of it. It was exceptionally good… for a weed. I only added olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Next time I will give it the works, including feta cheese!

The great thing about common mallow is that it pulls out easily in big wads. It is very easy to rinse off, as it doesn’t stick together like new lettuce does. Leave the stems in if you like. It looks very pretty in the bowl. Just add your favorite ingredients and you have a wonderful, healthy, tasty salad!

Please take the time to research the health benefits of common mallow and by all means search for other edible weeds near your home. You will be amazed at what you discover. In a food shortage, these weeds could save our lives. Weeds, wonderful weeds!


“Malva-neglecta-20070428” by Luis Fernรกndez Garcรญa – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 es via Wikimedia Commons

Thanks to Laurie Corbeil for participating in the [Grow] Network Writing Contest. We have over $1,500 in prizes lined up for the current writing contest, with more to come. Here is a list of the current pot of prizes:

– A 21.5 quart pressure canner from All American, a $380 value
– A Survival Still emergency water purification still, a $279 value
– 1 year of free membership in the [Grow] Network Core Community, a $240 value
– A copy of The Summer of Survival Complete Collection from Life Changes Be Ready, a $127 value
– 2 copies of the complete Home Grown Food Summit, valued at $67 each
– 3 free 3 month memberships in the [Grow] Network Core Community, valued at $60 each
– The complete 2014 Grow Your Own Food Summit interview series, a $47 value
– 4 copies of the Grow Your Own Groceries DVD video set, valued at $42 each
– A Bug Out Seed Kit from the Sustainable Seed Company, a $40 value
– 4 copies of the Alternatives To Dentists DVD video, valued at $32 each

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  • Jennifer says:

    Good information to know but would have been better with a picture of the actual plant and maybe additional information on the nettles too. And maybe some expanded knowledge of why these particular weeds are so good for you besides a salad replacement.

    1. Please forgive me for not including pictures when I originally posted the story on common mallow and nettles. At the time my camera cord was missing. I use hard-wired devices. Please see the information below on nettles. Refer to Mother Earth News for further information on nettles. My reason for leaving information out was to encourage everyone to do searches, so as to discover the treasures for themselves ๐Ÿ™‚ I had hoped that my description of using it in salad would motivate others to dig further into their own research of the plant. Also, I was not sure if I could just copy and paste someone else’s photo, but, for the record, here is a really good picture of it:

      and here:

      Also, as to health benefits, here is a link, as my sister is currently chomping at the bit for me to come with her to go get rain barrels! http://www.ediblewildfood.com/mallow.aspx

      I hope this will encourage everyone to search out more information on edible wild plants… and give a sense of power as far as your ability to find and eat free healthy foods ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Claudia says:

    This item would have really benefited from a picture of common mallow! and maybe a mention of what parts of the country it is found in?

    1. Michael Ford says:

      Hi Claudia – A picture of the plant has been added. According to the USDA the plant is common across the continental US except for Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida – http://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=MANE.

      1. Thanks Michael Ford for bailing me out with the picture. I did not have my USB cable for my camera when I sent in the story. I am still enjoying the common mallow in my salads:) My sister loves it, too! Have a great day!

  • Yasmin says:

    Loved this article. I was thinking along those lines just recently, because something that I did not plant is growing with great energy in my garden. I wondered if it could be an edible weed… now I am seriously going to check to see if indeed it is!

    1. Thanks so much Yasmin for your kind remarks:) Have a ball with edible wild weeds!

  • Don Lefforge says:

    It would be nice if you showed some good pictures since I have no idea what you are talking about and I wouldn’t have to look it up.

    1. KP says:

      Complain much? Dont mean to be rude, dude, but typing ‘malva neglecta’ into your favorite search box takes 13 letters. But you typed 103 letters so you could complain.

      Thanks for sharing OP – I love the mallow too!! In CA we call it cheese weed ๐Ÿ˜‰

    2. Michael Ford says:

      Hi Don – I had trouble finding a good picture of the plant. I found one now on Wikipedia Commons, and I added it to the bottom of the article.

  • Cindy H says:

    A very common weed here in South Dakota is lambs quarters. It can be eaten in a salad or sauteed in butter with garlic as well. Any way you might make spinach, you can use lambs quarters. Young greens are better for using than more mature plants though. We do not have a lot of wild mallow here so the closest example comparably is lambs quarters. I have heard some people call it pigweed also.

  • Bonnie says:

    As usual, a letter filled with wonderful information. I have lots of lambs quarter. and I usually cut it back when very young to use in salads. It comes back again and again if cut back.

    1. Thanks, KP, for your kind support. Enjoy your wonderful cheese weed! BTW it is great with cheese, onions, home grown tomatoes and cucumbers! Just wonderful!!

    2. Aw Bonnie, what a sweet comment ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for your kind encouragement. I will try my hand at writing again. It is a joy to share something positive with others. I am glad I wrote the little story about weeds ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Richard Barrett says:

    Thanks for sharing with a fellow Canadian. This is my first time in over 60 years to learn that the weeds I pulled on the farm could be good for a salad. What was the best way to use nettles?

    1. Hello Richard,
      Thank-you for your positive comment ๐Ÿ™‚ I, too, am close to 60 years old and stepped on the precious weeds and carelessly pulled out this wonderful source of food, as if it were a pest. I almost feel like apologizing to it for having been so ‘prejudiced.’ Nevertheless, you asked about the nettles. For the most part people use nettles as a dried herb as a tea. However, I took a look online and discovered some excellent uses for nettle on Mother Earth News. Here are just a few:

      1) chickens that eat nettles lay more eggs
      2) nettle stops both internal and external bleeding
      3) nursing mothers produce more milk if they drink nettle tea
      4) before flax Northern Europeans wove stinging nettle stalks into ‘linen’
      5) nettle juice will ease the sting from the nettle plant itself

      The internet certainly is a wonderful tool for learning useful information… and for sharing it with friends. This is the first ‘contest’ I ever entered for writing. I am happy I could share something useful with, as yet, undiscovered friends ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Diana says:

    Very glad you mentioned researching the plants before eating. Horses eating them are usually a good sign they’re edible plants, but it’s not fool-proof. This is especially true in areas with invasive non-natives and ornamentals. I have walked too many horses with colic because they took curious nibbles of something they shouldn’t have. Always double check, and try small amounts the first time you eat a new plant, since nobody likes an upset tummy. But I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who “eats like a horse”! LOL

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