Like many of us I am currently at home with my children so my thoughts have been turning to fun ways to encourage young people to enjoy their accessible outdoor spaces during lockdown. I wanted to draw together a few resources to help kids get to know some of their most common weeds. All the plants I have chosen can be found in the average town garden (at least one that isn’t too well manicured!) and for those that don’t have access to their own outside space you will be able to find them all in a local park, in some cases, even growing out of the concrete! This is based on plants available where I live in the UK but may be appropriate for others living in temperate zones too.
The idea is for you and your children to watch the videos, download and print the colouring sheets and then go outside to search for the plants listed. Learn the herbal and botanical word for each plant and, if possible, harvest some to make the super simple foods or medicines below.
If you are not harvesting from your own garden then you must be wary of foraging safely, for example your local park may use pesticide or herbicide sprays or may be a common dog walking zone. If this is the case you can still hunt for the plants, spot their identifying features and maybe gather a few to make crafts with instead. The forest school classic, hapa zome or leaf bashing would be a great way to use plants that may not be safe to ingest. To do this you lay your chosen weeds between two pieces of white or pale cotton fabric and then gently bash them all over with a mallet so the plant juices come out and stain the fabric with pretty patterns and colours. Pressing them between sheets of paper beneath heavy books until completely dry is also fun to do and you can start your own herbarium by collecting your pressed plants.
If you are completely new to foraging and wild plants then please use a good guide book, double check and be 100% sure of your id before eating any plants!
The clips are all short so as not to overload young children with information but please do investigate further if you want to as there is so much more to say about all the plants mentioned. Also please excuse my slightly awkward and very amateur videos, it's the first time I've made any!
So without further ado… let’s go on a weed hunt!

Nettle – Urtica dioica

Botanical term – Opposite leaves - look how the leaves are arranged on the stem, they come out on opposite sides from the same point.
Herbal word- Nutritive - full of nutrients
Recipe – Nettle soup.
Nettle soup is a simple, delicious and nutritious way to enjoy eating nettles! Everyone has a different recipe and ours varies depending on what we have in the fridge but this is one of our favourites:
1 large leek
1 large potato
4 cloves garlic
1 courgette
Olive oil
Stock to cover
Small colander full of nettles
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
Salt and pepper to taste
Fry the leek over a low heat in the oil until it starts to soften, add the potato, garlic and courgette, fry for another few minutes. Add the stock and simmer until the potato is soft. Add the nettles, nutritional yeast and salt and pepper and simmer for another few minutes. Blend until smooth and serve.
Dandelion fritters and nettle soup

Dandelion - Taraxacum spp.

Botanical term – basal rosette - leaves arranged in a circle at the base of the plant.
Herbal word – diuretic - makes you go for a wee more often!
Recipe – Dandelion fritters.
Making dandelion fritters is a brilliant way of weeding your garden and getting a delicious meal all in one. Simply pick a few handfuls of dandelion flowers from a clean, unsprayed area. Brush them gently to remover any dirt or small bugs (washing them makes them too soggy) then hold them by the stems and dip the flowers into a simple batter mixture and fry. We make them savoury or sweet and both are delicious. We start with a simple batter of flour and oat mylk then add maple syrup for the sweet ones and salt and pepper for the savoury ones. It's that simple!

Cleavers – Gallium aparine

Botanical term – whorled - leaves radiating from a single point and wrapping around the stem.
Herbal word – lymphatic - supports our lymphatic system.
Recipe – Cleavers cold infusion.
Another really simple recipe, all you do is place a couple of handfuls of freshly picked cleavers in a jug, cover with cool water and leave to infuse overnight. In the morning you will have a delicately flavoured liquid that will gently cleanse your body and help the lymphatic system to move and clear out stagnation. If you don't want to wait overnight you can mash the plants in the water so they release their juices immediately, then strain and enjoy.
Cleavers cold infusion

Daisy – Bellis perennis

Botanical term – obovate - egg shaped/ spoon shaped leaf.
Herbal word – vulnerary - wound healing.
Recipe – Daisy bruise balm.
This can be made by infusing fresh or dried daisy flowers into a base oil such as cold pressed olive or sunflower then mixing with a little beeswax or candelilla wax to make a balm. There are in depth instructions on how to make an infused oil and a balm on the 'How to Make' page which you can access via the menu bar at the top of this page.

Plantain – Plantago lanceolata

Botanical term – lanceolate - shaped like a lance.
Herbal word – demulcent - soothing, moistening, reducing inflammation.
Recipe – Plantain poultice.
The easiest recipe of all! To make a plantain poultice to help with bites, stings and minor wounds you simply chew or mash the plantain leaf until the juices are released and then place on the afflicted area. You can then cover it with a plantain leaf bandage like the one below.
Plantain plaster

I hope this has been a useful and fun introduction to some wonderful weeds. Please share it with anyone you think might enjoy it and I’d love to see any photos of your weed adventures and colourings!