• Outdoors Outdoors

Forager recommends eating invasive yet tasty weed: 'You can find fields of it'

"They choke out the native ecosystem."

"They choke out the native ecosystem."

Photo Credit: Instagram

Weeds can take over where there used to be diverse ecosystems. Luckily, an Instagram user has a solution to eliminate a specific one. 

The scoop

Jason Wise (@jasonjourneyman) posted a video encouraging people to eat an invasive wild radish. 

In the video, Jason crouches next to a purple flower — evidently at the Silver Lake Reservoir complex in Los Angeles — explaining what this plant is and what to do about it. He says: "This is invasive wild radish. It's a garden escapee, so it grows pretty much anywhere you can grow a radish in your garden. … These are invasive. They choke out the native ecosystem. So if you see them with these beautiful purple to white flowers that are with a cross shape, it's a cruciferous vegetable. … eat them, pull them out, and eat them." 

He added in the video description: "You can find fields of it in places that once hosted a diverse ecosystem." 

In the video, Jason also says that the greens and beans are edible while making noises like they taste good. 

He believes that if everyone went out and ate wild radishes, they could get under control. 

Naturally, as with foraging any edible plant, it's important that you can clearly and safely identify what you're eating. As one website about foraging wild radish warns: "Always stay safe when foraging. You need to be 100% sure of your identification, 100% sure that your foraged item is edible, and 100% sure that you are not allergic to it. … If in doubt, leave it out."

How it's helping

You don't just have to eat wild radishes raw like Jason does. They can also be used as a spice or put into salads and stir-fry dishes. The weed tastes like horseradish, so it can be a tasty addition to your kitchen. 

You can even use it as more than just food. According to Wild Flower Web, it has also been used as a medicine for digestive disorders, respiratory problems, and skin conditions. It's truly a versatile plant. 

Eating foraged food not only saves you money by providing free food; it also helps to remove invasive plants that would otherwise spread aggressively. Pascal Baudar, an urban forager, told PBS: "Ninety to 95% of what I forage is invasive. I think foraging can be done in a way that can help the environment. Plant native plants at home and forage weeds."

As Baudar indicated, it's not just about removing the invasive weed. It's also making space to replenish the soil with native plants

Native plants are generally cheaper to manage than non-native landscape plantings because they require less maintenance. They don't need as much water or fertilizer since they are acclimated to their specific environments. Less water and fertilizer can also mean reduced water runoff. 

Native plants also don't need as much mowing, so there will be less polluting gases from equipment when you replace your lawn with low-maintenance native plants. Better air quality can benefit communities because it improves respiratory and heart health.

What everyone's saying

One Instagram user commented on the video: "I didn't realize how invasive they were, and now I'm worried about my garden grown ones." 

Another suggests how to eat the weed: "Pickle those pods! My favorite spring treat."

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