Wading Through the Weeds: Backyard Foraging {Part 1}

St. John’s wort is a wonderful mood booster

I figured the ultimate in crunchiness would be to try suburban foraging, so off I went into the wild frontier…or, ahem, my weed-filled lawn. Whether it be edible, medicinal, or ornamental, I was determined to see what I could identify and use. Shall we see what resides in a spray-free lawn in SE Michigan?

St. John’s Wort

The pretty yellow flowers pictured above were definitely a surprise find. It took me awhile to identify them, and this plant offers some intriguing medicinal benefits. Popular uses for St. John’s wort include alleviating depression, hormonal issues such as PMS and menopause, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), ADHD, and OCD. It can be used to treat nerve and pain disorders like migraine headaches and chronic fatigue syndrome. Even cancer, HIV/AIDS, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are listed in the conditions treated by this botanical wonder.


This common garden weed is an effective pain reliever. Chew up the leaves and place on bug bites, scratches, or burns for almost instant pain relief. Some other uses include the treatment of coughs and respiratory issues, weight loss, and drastically reducing the itch from poison ivy.


There is mint growing wild in my yard. I find that crazy. Things you buy and plant do not spontaneously grow in a suburban green space. Though it is a true weed and becomes a menace if left unchecked, I was so excited to find it! After transplanting most of the shoots into a pot, it is thriving. We have enjoyed making tea, and Katie likes to munch her way through the leaves when we’re out in the backyard. The only unfortunate part is that it is spearmint, and I’m a peppermint girl. Yuck. Next year, we’ll add lemon, chocolate, and peppermint varieties.

Red Clover

Red clover is very sparse in my weed patch of a lawn, so the couple of plants that I found will be transplanted to eventually grow as a crop cover in the vegetable garden and for medicine. Red clover is often used to prevent menstrual cramps and lighten a woman’s monthly flow. It can also be used to relieve sore throats. This is what I am hoping to have luck with. I can’t wait to have enough blossoms and/or leaves to make an infused raw honey for the cold and flu season. Have whooping cough? Try red clover tea. It is also reported as being good for skin condition, bug bites, and venomous stings.

Wild Daisy

The wild daisy is another ‘weed’ that treats coughs, skin conditions, and wounds. It is also used to treat inflammation and rheumatism. A favorite use in my house is in a mini flower arrangement for the dining room table or tea party centerpiece courtesy of my favorite 4 year old.

Part 2 is a work in progress. I can’t wait to share what we found! One of these weeds is even one of the most nutritious greens available (hint: it’s not nettles or dandelion).

This post is part of Keep It Real Thursdays, Tuesday Garden Party, Fill Those Jars Friday

Red Clover Photo Credit: Marion Doss


Jennifer Nervo is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Reiki Master Practitioner & teacher, and Aromatherapist. Her focus is on digestive, nervous, and immune system dysfunction and the fields of functional nutrition & psychoneuroimmunology. She works with all conditions and diseases including environmental and food allergies, autoimmune diseases, multiple chemical sensitivity, diabetes, eczema, anxiety, weight loss as a symptom of dis-ease, and gut-brain disorders like autism.

When she’s not herding her small troupe of monkeys or seeing clients, her free time is packed with researching and perfecting new wellness techniques (her not-so-secret passion). Jennifer is currently a group leader for the newest class of Nutritional Therapy Practitioners out of Ann Arbor, MI, studying for the national board exam in holistic nutrition, and running a combined distance and brick and mortar practice in metro Detroit. She’s also a homeschooling suburbanite, foodie, and mama to two littles and a schnoodle.

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