Weeds Up Front – front yard gardens focusing on edible weeds found in the neighborhood, made entirely by resources from the neighborhood.


(Amaranthus) Amaranth / Kalunay / Pigweed / 莧菜 / राजिगराा

There are countless varieties of Amaranthus plants. Stems can be red or green. There is even a spiny variety. Leaves can be hairy or hairless. Flower clusters have a distinctive look though can range in size. Tender leaves, flowers and stalks are great for stir-frys. Add to soups, omelettes, or oatmeal. Mature seeds of are also used as a grain. (cooking video + MORE)

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(Coccinia grandi) Ivy Gourd / Pak Tum Lung / 红瓜 / आइवी लौकी / Tindora

Young shoots can be used raw in salads, or stir-fried, and added to soups and stews. Ripe gourds are bitter and can used like bitter melon. Often made into curries. (cooking video)

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(Lepidium virginicum) Pepper Grass / Virginia Pepper Weed / 北美独行菜 / 豆軍配薺 / culantrillo / cresson a savane

Flower clusters form along a central stem. The somewhat hairy leaves are lance-shaped. The entire plant is edible. Young leaves can be used raw in salads, or sautéed. The young seedpods can be used as a substitute black pepper. This entire plant can be put into a food processor along with turmeric, vinegar, miso, garlic and salt to make wild mustard. Crushed roots with vinegar and salt can be used as a horseradish substitute. Due to its medicinal properties eat sparingly. It is used as an antiamoebic in traditional Mexican medicine.

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(Portulaca oleracea) Purslane / 쇠비름 / Khorfeh / Luni-bhaji / Yerba Orate / 马齿苋 / Bakleh / 滑草/すべりひゆ

Purslane grows lowish to the ground. Their green or reddish stems come from a central taproot. Smooth leaves grow out from the stalk in a four leaf star configuration. NO sticky white liquid come out of purslane when you harvest. Stems, leaves and flower buds can be used raw in salads, or stir-fried. Also can be added to soups and stews. (cooking video)

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(Oxalis) Wood Sorrel / agsom / ‘ihi ‘ai / カタバミ / sour grass / ‘i‘i / trèfle jaune 

Oxalis has three heart-shaped leaflets and pink or yellow flowers with five petals. All parts of the plant can be eaten. Add leaves, flowers, and young seed pods to salads, use in soups and sauces. Has many medical properties. (cooking video)

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(Plantago) Laukahi / おおばこ / Piantaggine / Common Plantain / White Man’s Foot

Plantago has leaves with distinctive parallel veins and tall green flower stalks. Use young leaves raw in salads, or cook via stir-fry, add to soups and stews. Dried seeds can be used as a grain sparingly. Plantago has also been used widely medicinally to manage a wide range of diseases including constipation, coughs, skin irritations and wounds. MORE

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(Taraxacum) Dandelion / सिंहपर्णी / diente de león / タンポポ / 蒲公英

Dandelion leaves are hairless and generally have toothed edges. There is only one flower per stem vs look-alike plants. Root, leaves and stem all exude a milky white sap. The bitter leaves can be eaten raw, steamed or added to stir-fries and soups. The flowers are sweet and crunchy. They can be eaten raw, or breaded and fried, or used to make syrup or wine.

WE(ED)S UP FRONT #mutualaid #loveinthetimeofcovid19

Knowledge about edible weeds is timely for the current moment. The covid-19 pandemic has made us more aware of our vulnerabilities. We see in stark terms how precarious our lives are when we are entirely dependent on global trade and supply chains. As the shortages of covid-19 tests and PPE (personal protective equipment) demonstrate, capitalism pits us against each other and resources always go to the highest bidder. However this moment can also be an opening to recognize our connectivities.

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“When we begin to understand that the state will not protect us – or, at least, not the marginalized among us – we can instead become aware of our profound responsibility to our fellow people and to the non-human life around us – in the words of late poet June Jordan, ‘We are the ones we have been waiting for.’ The anarchist idea of mutual aid is one way that marginalized communities take care of each other through co-operation, not competition.” Kelly Rose Pflug-Back

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Basic rules about urban foraging:

1. Never harvest more than you need. Leave some for other beings and for the plants to regrow.
2. Observe if the area has been treated with pesticides and herbicides. Talk with those who maintain the area. Even if plants are sprayed it does not impact new growth after the spraying. Roots are more of a concern since toxicity can remain in the soil.
3. Tend the area like it is your garden to insure continued availability.



Mutual aid for the end of the world (2019). Kelly Rose Pflug-Back




+ A Hiker’s Guide to Trailside Plants in Hawaii (2008). John Hall
+ Edible Wild Plants: Eastern/Central North America (1999). Lee Allen Peterson and Roger Tory Peterson
+ Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild (and Not So Wild) Places (1994). Steve Brill and Evelyn Dean
+ Wild Food Plants of Hawai‘i (2015). Sunny Savage