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Gardener warns against ridding your yard of a commonly removed 'weed': 'Not ... as bad as you think'

Each plant can produce up to 50,000 seeds, so it can spread quickly.

Each plant can produce up to 50,000 seeds, so it can spread quickly.

Photo Credit: @nettlesandpetals / Instagram

A popular Instagrammer and gardening expert is warning people not to get rid of a commonly misunderstood plant that can actually be quite beneficial.

The scoop

British Instagrammer Jamie Walton (@nettlesandpetals) offers productive advice for gardeners and those aspiring to turn their thumb green.

"Here's why thistles might not be quite as bad as you think," he tells viewers. 

The Reel begins with Walton explaining how most people consider thistles to be "a prickly invasive weed." He continues, explaining that "there's a reason to be concerned when you see it in places not wanted." That is mostly due to its creeping root system and the fact that each plant can produce up to 50,000 seeds, so it can spread quickly. 

However, these so-called weeds have many uses, including being edible. "You may have already eaten one if you're a fan of globe artichokes," Walton says. 

"They taste pretty good, too, and that's because lots of other plants use compounds such as tannins to make them too bitter to eat." He goes on to explain that thistles don't need tannins because their prickly spines provide protection, "so they have quite a mild flavor." 

He continues by adding that "the best part to eat is the flowering stem before it flowers," which he says is kind of like celery but not as bitter.

Walton reminds viewers to process the thistles carefully before eating them and to "remove all of the spines." 

Thistles are also an important source of food for wildlife, "so be sure to leave some behind," Walton advises. 

And if that isn't enough to love these unwanted plants, the seeds can also be used to make a fire while out camping. 

How it's helping

Having a garden with a variety of plants, including the edible kind, can have numerous benefits

Overall, growing your own foods can be beneficial to your health since it doesn't require the packaging found in store-bought foods, whether they are herbs, fruits or vegetables

Studies have shown that canned and packaged foods have chemical contaminants that can leach into your food.   

Growing your own herbs and spices is also much more affordable than buying them at the supermarket, and it also saves you that trip to the store. 

Having a garden also saves lots of water as opposed to having a traditional grass lawn, and plants help rid the atmosphere of harmful industrial pollutants from the transportation and energy sectors. 

What everyone's saying

"It's amazing what you learn," one commenter expressed.

"The number of different pollinators and birds attracted to those weeds has grown exponentially. I love that the seeds of thistles can be used as kindling. Wow," another added.

Another viewer of the Reel wrote how their mother "tells stories of stripping the thistle stem and eating them as a child. She does the same when she comes to my house as we have thistles as tall as we are."

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