Find it: A prolific weed, lamb's-quarters
grows just about everywhere, including in sidewalk cracks and even factory yards.
By midsummer, my favorite weeds of all would emerge from plowed fields: a high-rising, spinach-related green called lamb's-quarters
, and a low-slung, creeping plant called purslane, with its succulent, lemony leaves.
Some of the plants to stay away from include bracken fern, dock, hemlock, locoweed, milkweed, mountain laurel, oak leaf, rhubarb, sorrel, wilted wild cherry, and under certain conditions (decreased light, fast growth after drought, heavy fertilizers) johnsongrass, pigweed, lamb's-quarters
, and alfalfa can accumulate toxic amounts of nitrates.
The seeds are actually the fruits of a leafy green plant in the Chenopodium family, closely related to wild greens such as lamb's-quarters
and pigweed, and in the same family as beets, chard and spinach.
Fertile soil: Pigweed, lamb's-quarters
, foxtails, common chickweed
ARS researchers Jay Radhakrishnan, John Teasdale and Ben Coffman in Beltsville, Md., tested vinegar on major weeds -- common lamb's-quarters
, giant foxtail, velvetleaf, smooth pigweed and Canada thistle -- in greenhouse and field studies.
I picked lamb's-quarters
and she ignored it," Duchon recalls.
Additionally, many "weeds," such as chickweed and lamb's-quarters
, are highly nutritious and good candidates for pesto.