List of beneficial weeds

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This is a list of undomesticated or feral plants, generally considered weeds, yet having some positive effects or uses, often being ideal as companion plants in gardens.

Beneficial weeds can accomplish a number of roles in the garden or yard, including fertilizing the soil, increasing moisture, acting as shelter or living mulch, repelling pests, attracting beneficial insects, or serving as food or other resources for human beings.

Chart[edit]

Beneficial Weed Chart
Common name Scientific name Companion plant for Attracts/hosts Repels Traps Edibility Medicinal Avoid Comments
Bashful mimosa Mimosa pudica Ground cover for tomatoes, peppers predatory beetles Used as a natural ground cover in agriculture
Caper spurge Euphorbia lathyris Moles Used in French folk medicine as an emetic and purgative[1] Many domesticated animals can eat it, although it is poisonous to humans.[1]
Crow garlic Allium vineale fruit trees, nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, etc.), brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi, etc.) carrots slugs, aphids, carrot fly, cabbage worms[2] Can be used like conventional chives beans, peas, parsley This is a wild cousin of onions and garlic
Nettle Urtica dioica Broccoli, tomato,[3] valerian, mint, fennel Despite its "sting", young plant parts are edible, as is much of the plant when blanched or otherwise prepared. It can be used to make herbal tea Also once grown as a crop for its fiber. Its juice was once used in the place of rennet in cheese-making. It was also a source of "green" for dye. It can still be used as a high-protein additive in animal feed, once dried.
Wild mustard Brassicaceae Grape vine,[4] radish, non-mustard brassica, including cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli Ladybugs Traps various brassica pests, including aphids Seeds and leaves are edible beets Domesticated mustard is a hybrid of three different species of wild mustard, all of which are still used in some places for food. This is known as the Triangle of U.
Wild rose Rosa Strawberries, grapes, roses Rodents and deer Traps Japanese beetles Rose hips can be used in herbal teas This includes the feral multiflora rose, brought to the US [5] both for use as root stock for domesticated roses, and as a "natural fence" for livestock. In the mid 20th century miles of multiflora rose hedge were planted in sequence.

Categories of beneficial weeds[edit]

Pest-repellent[edit]

  • Neem—repels leaf eating insects

Edible[edit]

  • Blackberry—blackberries are delicious but they form thorny thickets when dead, and their thorn punctures can induce sickness; appropriate medical treatments may thereafter be costly.[6]
  • Borage—all parts have various medicinal purposes, with the edible flowers being used in desserts.
  • Burdock—roots are edible (as are the stalks, but particularly the young leaves [7])
  • Chickweed (Stellaria media)—used in salads and also as ground cover
  • Clover—its leaves can be eaten, but not in great numbers due to their natural acidity.[8]
  • Cornflower—various colours; can be served as edible garnish to decorate salads.
  • Dandelions—leaves are edible, while roots are edible after being roasted
  • Flatweed—leaves are edible raw, while roots are edible after being roasted[9]
  • Horsetail—primeval plant that produces its own vitamin D & is high in silica; tops are very similar to & may be eaten like asparagus
  • Lamb's quarters—leaves and shoots, raw, also prevents erosion, also distracts leaf miners from nearby crops
  • Nettle—young leaves collected before flowering used as a tea or spinach substitute. Plants have use as compost material or for fibre.
  • Purslane—prepared raw for salads or sautéed
  • Shepherd's purse—leaves are edible and often sautéed or blanched
  • Watercress—can be eaten raw or cooked; is considered a weed in some cultures (caution required when harvesting wild because of the risk of contracting potentially fatal liver fluke)

Habitat for beneficial insects[edit]

  • Wild blackberry—attracts predatory insects, and produces berries
  • Motherwort—attracts bees
  • Joe-Pye weed—habitat for pollinators and predatory insects
  • Aster—habitat predatory insects

Shelter plants[edit]

  • Normal grass can be used as ground cover, especially in nitrogenous soils.

Trap crops[edit]

Trap crops draw potential pests away from the actual crop intended for cultivation.

  • Cowpea—attracts ladybird beetle, so planting around cotton fields protects them from sucking insects. It serves as source of food and niche.

Other[edit]

See also[edit]

Organic approaches[edit]

Indexes[edit]

References[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Peterson, L.A. & Peterson, R.T. (1999). A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and central North America. Houghton-Mifflin.
  • Duke, J.A., Foster, S., & Peterson, R.T. (1999). A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs of Eastern and Central North America. Houghton-Mifflin.
  • Gibbon, E. (1988). Stalking the Wild Asparagus. Alan C. Hood & Company.
  • Sharma, O.P., R.C. Lavekar, K.S. Murthy and S.N. Puri (2000). Habitat diversity and predatory insects in cotton IPM: A case study of Maharashtra cotton eco-system. Radcliffe's IPM world textbook. Minnesota University, USA.