An old saying went something like this: “If a plant is hard to kill, it is either very good for you or else it is toxic.”
In the case of some of my favorite wild edibles, the former certainly seems true. Consider dandelions and Japanese knotweed. Both, once established, are nearly impossible to eradicate. And both make good eats (as Alton Brown might say) and both provide lots of health benefits.
A recent trip to my doctor’s office revealed much about Japanese knotweed. Doctor Piel is a homeopath and often suggests various plant products for me to use…or to avoid.
Doctor Piel had recently read my book, “Wild Plants of Maine, A Useful Guide” and while he was testing me, our conversation turned to knotweed.
As it turns out, knotweed contains something called resveratrol. According to laboratory tests, resveratrol has anti-cancer properties and also promotes long life in humans. In fact, a well-respected medical herb company offers a product that contains Japanese knotweed root.
This amazed me, although it shouldn’t. I am aware that many of our wild edibles have medicinal virtues. But this new bit of information regarding knotweed came as a complete surprise.
Anyway, Doctor Piel didn’t suggest that I take this commercially produced knotweed product, since he is well aware that I eat knotweed fresh in season and as a frozen product out of season. It stands to reason that I must get a good, steady supply of resveratrol as a result of my knotweed consumption.
Oh, that same herb company also offers a number of dandelion-based products. Again, I eat dandelions several times each week, year-round. So I wouldn’t gain much by buying what is already available to me for free.
Oh, I’m not going to suggest that if everyone eats knotweed and dandelions, they won’t grow old or ever become ill. But still, it is truly comforting to know for a fact that the wild plants that taste so good are also good for us.