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Uses for Invasive Plants- Washington DC area

Last updated about 6 years ago

The global problem of invasive species has become increasingly well known and familiar to many of us. One grass-roots response to the issue that has come to my attention is the harvest-for-use model, often described as "if you can't beat it, eat it". Or mash it up to make paper, or extract pigments for art and handicrafts. There are many online communities that provide instructions for the use of harvested invasive plants. This list is a selection of introduced and invasive plant species in the Washington DC area, with links to recipes or instructions for using them. All the plants identified as edible are also listed in the reference below. However, please bear these two things in mind before you go out into the world to harvest the enemy: First, nothing is invasive everywhere. The plants below do not naturally occur in the DC/Maryland/Virginia area. In most cases it would be counterproductive to eliminate them in Europe or Asia! Second, identifying plants can be very tricky, and a closely related or otherwise very similar native plant may occur in the same area. For your safety and the wellbeing of the native flora, please be careful the first time you go out to harvest, consult identification resources and if possible, get an expert to verify that you have the correct plant. Happy Harvesting! Reference: Duke, J.H. 1992. Handbook of Edible Weeds. CRC Press