Saturday, May 28, 2011

Florida Weeds: Pests or Culinary Treat

Recently I attended a weed trial workshop put on by professors from University of Florida/Belle Glade Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) office.

There were several farmers at the event and we all got to talking about the biggest weed pests here in south Florida. Surprisingly all the weeds we talked about turned out to be edible.

Purslane (pictured below): is a succulent plant with yellow flowers. It can be eaten fresh in salads or cooked and used as a thickener like Okra.
Lambs Quarters, a leafy green used fresh in salads, it is sometimes confused with wild Amaranth
Amaranth, also known as Callaloo, is similar to wild spinach and is best cooked. It has a red stem and different shaped leaves from Lambs Quarters.
Nutsedge Grass (related to Chufa), is gathered for it tubers or nuts which are roasted before eating.

Many of the farmers have had people from Central and South America and from the Islands pick these weeds out of their fields.

I tried some Purslane and found it surprisingly good tasting. And suggested to the farmers they get a big time chef to cook a famous dish with one of these weeds to put it on the culinary map. Then instead of using herbicides to get rid of the weeds, the farmers could grow them and make a profit. Many laughed.

Later, I saw Jodi Swank of Swank Specialty Produce selling cultivated Purslane at the West Palm Beach Green Market for $4 a bunch. She said it was a favorite with her CSA members.

Then, just the other day, I found some Purslane growing in a slightly shaded are of my yard. Salad anyone?


  1. Cool! Just realized Amaranth or Callaloo were not weeds after all! After all my life! Thanks!

  2. Thanks for this awesome post! I have a huge patch of purslane growing in an unattended spot in my garden, and now, it's not just a big patch of weeds :D