Edible weeds have been a common food source throughout history and a regular part of the American diet up until the rise of the supermarket and the shift towards large-scale agriculture. More recently, people have been re-discovering these nutrient-rich plants as part of a healthy, organic diet, and, as a result, educational opportunities abound.
While, apparently, not one of the more sought after wild plants- or even that well known in North America- purslane is a popular food in the Mediterranean and many other areas of the world. Look for purslane in open, sunny areas as it is a warm weather lover- not sprouting until the ground temperature reaches around 80 degrees F- very determined once established and flourishing with ease. The tear drop shaped leaves (though they remain rounded- not quite reaching a ‘tear drop’ point where the leaf meets the stem and are typically no longer than 1 inch in length) are green with a hint of red, first sprouting as four propeller~looking leaves out of a reddish system of stems that resemble pipes stretching across the ground. The plant rarely reaches more than 2 or 3 inches in height.
There are two common mulberry tree species (plus many off shoot hybrids) here in the U.S. , the native red mulberry and the Asian white mulberry. The red mulberry, which reaches a height of about sixty-five feet, has rough, reddishbrown bark and the leaves are rounded, toothed, some oval shaped, some lobed. The fruit, also oval in shape, hangs from a thin, green fruit stalk and is composed of many very dark purple berries (when ripe.) Each little berry has its own seed. Red mulberry trees will be the ones that you are more likely to come across while foraging.
Often considered a pesky weed, dandelions have become an underappreciated, yet highly nutritious, perennial plant. Dandelion’s scientific name is Taraxacum Officinale, which roughly translated means the “official remedy for disorders.” Dandelion leaves (along with the roots and flowers) have enjoyed a long history as a highly regarded folk remedy throughout the world.