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.


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 Its extract immobilizes the filariform larvae of Strongyloides stercoralis in less than one hour.[1] In contemporary medicine, Mimosa pudica is being investigated for its potential to yield novel chemotherapeutic compounds. It contains an alkaloid called mimosine, which has been found to have potent antiproliferative and apoptotic effects.[2] Used as a natural ground cover in agriculture
Caper spurge Euphorbia lathyris Moles Used in folk medicine as an antiseptic and purgative[3] Many domesticated animals can eat it, although it is poisonous to humans.[3]
Common name Scientific name Companion plant for Attracts/hosts Repels Traps Edibility Medicinal Avoid Comments
Crow garlic Allium vineale fruit trees, nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, etc.), brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi, etc.) carrots slugs, aphids, carrot fly, cabbage worms[4] Can be used like conventional chives 3-mercapto-2-methylpentan-1-ol in onion was found to have an antioxidant potent that inhibits peroxynitrite induced diseases.[5] beans, peas, parsley This is a wild cousin of onions and garlic
Common name Scientific name Companion plant for Attracts/hosts Repels Traps Edibility Medicinal Avoid Comments
Wild mustard Brassicaceae Grape vine [2], 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 Same medicinal benefits as domesticated rose This includes the feral multiflora rose, brought to the US [3] both for use as root stock for domesticated roses, and as a "natural fence" for lifestock. In the mid 20th century miles of multiflora rose hedge were planted in sequence.

Categories of beneficial weeds[edit]


  • Neem—repels leaf eating insects


  • 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 [6])
  • Chickweed (Stellaria media) -- used in salads and also as ground cover
  • Cornflower various colours; can be served as edible garnish to decorate salads.
  • 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.


See also[edit]

Organic approaches[edit]



  1. ^ Robinson RD, Williams LA, Lindo JF, Terry SI, Mansingh A (1990). "Inactivation of strongyloides stercoralis filariform larvae in vitro by six Jamaican plant extracts and three commercial anthelmintics". West Indian Medical Journal. 39 (4): 213–7. PMID 2082565. 
  2. ^ "Antiproliferative effect of mimosine in ovarian cancer". Journal of Clinical Oncology. Retrieved 2010-01-13. 
  3. ^ a b Purdue University: Euphorbia lathyris
  4. ^ nss abstracts
  5. ^ Rose, Peter; Widder, S; Looft, J; Pickenhagen, W; Ong, CN; Whiteman, M; et al. (2003). "Inhibition of peroxynitrite-mediated cellular toxicity, tyrosine nitration, and α1-antiproteinase inactivation by 3-mercapto-2-methylpentan-1-ol, a novel compound isolated from Allium cepa". Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. 302 (2): 397–402. PMID 12604361. doi:10.1016/S0006-291X(03)00193-1. 
  6. ^ [1]
  • 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. http:// sharma.htm. Minnesota University, USA