Is Armed Forces Day is a good day to fight invasive weeds?

How about spreading love and appreciation for the ever- giving Mother Nature instead. Come harvest invasive weeds with us this Saturday, May 19th at Van Cortlandt Park 10am-1pm, meet at the compost site. Following is what to expect.

 Medicinal/Edible Invasive plants of Van Cortland Park, Bronx, NY

by Anya Pozdeeva,

Our mission is to educate about sustainable urban living, which includes urban farming, food justice and ecological culture. Using most powerful invasive plants as no-cost healing foods is part of our initiative. Today we would like to introduce to you:


Garlic Mustard Alliaria Petiolata

Lady’s Thumb Polygonum persicaria

Asiatic (Oriental) Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus)

Porcelainberry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata)

Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)

Japaniese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica)


                        Garlic Mastard (Alliaria Petiolata) Free Harvest @VanCortlandt Park

Garlic mustard was introduced in North America as a culinary herb in the 1860s and is an invasive species in much of North America.  As of 2006[update], it is listed as a noxious or restricted plant in the US. In many areas of its introduction in Eastern North America, it has become the dominant under-story species in woodland and flood plain environments. The insects and fungi that feed on it in its native habitat are not present in North America, increasing its seed productivity and allowing it to out-compete native plants. Garlic Mustard produces allelochemicals which suppress mycorrhizal  that most plants, including native forest trees, require for optimum growth.  

One common name of Garlic mustard is “Sauce-alone”, due to its rich, complex flavor.

The chopped leaves are used for flavoring in salads and sauces such as pesto, and sometimes the flowers and fruit are included as well. These are best when young, and provide a mild flavour of both garlic and mustard. The seeds are sometimes used to season food. Garlic mustard was once used medicinally as a disinfectant or diuretic and was sometimes used to heal wounds. It has antibacterial and antiviral properties, thus supporting immune system.

The mustard garlic has the highest levels of nutrients of any leafy green ever analyzed… It’s high in vitamin A, beta carotene, zinc, manganese and fiber.




Lady’s Thumb Persicaria vulgaris


This plant contains persicarin and tannins. In medicine, Redshank is used against diarrhoea and infections. The leaves and young shoots may be eaten as a palatable and nutritious leaf vegetable. It is often seen as a weed and rarely cultivated. A yellow dye can be produced from this plant with alum used as a mordant.

Source: wickipedia


Medicinal Uses: Cherokee Drug (Analgesic): Decoction mixed with meal and used as poultice for pain. (Dermatological Aid): Crushed leaves rubbed on poison ivy. (Urinary Aid): Infusion taken for “gravel.”
Chippewa Drug (Analgesic): Decoction of leaves and flowers taken for stomach pain. (Gastrointestinal Aid): Simple or compound decoction of flowers and leaves taken for stomach pain.
Iroquois Drug (Antirheumatic (External): Decoction of plant used as a foot and leg soak for rheumatism. (Heart Medicine): Plant used for heart trouble.
The leaves are astringent, diuretic, rubefacient and vermifuge. An infusion has been used as a treatment for gravel and stomach pains. A decoction of the plant, mixed with flour, has been used as a poultice to help relieve pain. A decoction of the plant has been used as a foot and leg soak in the treatment of rheumatism. The crushed leaves have been rubbed on poison ivy rash
Food Uses: Leaves and young shoots – raw or cooked. They contain about 1.9% fat, 5.4% pectin, 3.2% sugars, 27.6% cellulose, 1% tannin.
Seed – raw or cooked. It is rather small and fiddly to utilize.
Other Notes: A yellow dye is obtained from the plant when alum is used as a mordant



Astringent, diuretic, rubefacient. In European folk medicine, knotweed (lady’s thumb) is used for arthritis, lung problems, diarrhea, jaundice and chronic eczema.

Infusion: steep 1 tsp herb in 1 cup water. Take 1-2 cups/day

Source: The Herb Book, by John Lust



Asiatic (Oriental) Bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus)


Medicine and other products: Oriental bittersweet is an Asian folk medicine used for treating rheumatoid arthritis and bacterial infections. Medical and pharmacological studies show that Oriental bittersweet derivatives have antitumor, antiinflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, and insecticidal properties [66,67,108]. One Oriental bittersweet derivative shows ability to reverse multidrug resistance of cancer cells to cancer-treatment drugs [75,76]. Oriental bittersweet bark is used as a fine fiber in China [175]. Enzymes in Oriental bittersweet leaves clot milk. These leaf extracts may provide an alternative to calf rennet enzymes used in making cheese [117].




Porcelainberry (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata)

A spirits-extracted fraction of berries of Ampelopsis brevipedunculata (Maxim.) Trautv. (Vitaceae) is used in Japanese folk medicine to treat liver disease.

In Asia, porcelainberry has been used in traditional folk medicine as an anti-inflammatory, diuretic, anti-hepatotoxic agent [74], and to treat liver disease [75]. Porcelainberry extracts are being investigated for their antioxidant activity [74] and their potential to be used to treat liver disease [75].



Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)

Medicinal uses for purple loosestrife date back to the 1st century (Stevens 1961 as cited in Thompson 1987). The generic name, Lythrum, is derived from the Greek root for blood, and herbal references mention the astringent or styptic properties. Tonics made from flowering branches, leaves, and roots treated ailments that included dysentery, internal and external bleeding, and healing of wounds and ulcers (Thompson et al. 1987).


It has been used as an astringent medicinal herb to treat diarrhea and dysentery; it is considered safe to use for all ages, including babies.[7] It is also cultivated as an ornamental plant  in gardens. It has also been introduced in many areas of North America by bee keepers, due to its abundunce of flowers which provide a large source of nectar.



Japanese Honeysuckle Lonicera japonica

Chin Yin Hua, Chin Yin T’Eng, Honeysuckle, Japanese Honeysuckle, Jen Tung, Jen Tung Chiu, Jen Tung Kao, Sui-Kazura, Yin Hua, Hall’s Honeysuckle, White honeysuckle, Chinese honeysuckle, Halliana

 Japanese honeysuckle is edible and medicinal. High in Calcium, Magnesium, and Potassium, the leaves can be parboiled and eaten as a vegetable. The edible buds and flowers, made into a syrup or puddings. The entire plant has been used as an alternative medicine for thousands of years in Asia.

The active constituents include calcium, elaidic-acid, hcn, inositol, linoleic-acid, lonicerin, luteolin, magnesium, myristic-acid, potassium, tannin, and zink. It is alterative, antibacterial, antiinflammatory, antispasmodic, depurative, diuretic, febrifuge, and is also used to reduce blood pressure. The stems are used internally in the treatment of acute rheumatoid arthritis, mumps and hepatitis. The stems are harvested in the autumn and winter, and are dried for later herb use. The stems and flowers are used together a medicinal infusion in the treatment of upper respiratory tract infections (including pneumonia) and dysentery. An infusion of the flower buds is used in the treatment of a wide range of ailments including syphillitic skin diseases and tumors, bacterial dysentery, colds, and enteritis.

Experimentally, the flower extracts have been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels and are antibacterial, antiviral and tuberculostatic. Externally, the flowers are applied as a medicinal wash to skin inflammations, infectious rashes and sores. The flowers are harvested in early morning before they open and are dried for later herb use. This plant has become a serious weed in many areas of N. America, it might have the potential to be utilized for proven medicinal purposes. Other uses include; Ground cover, Insecticide, Basketry, vines used to make baskets. The white-flowers of cultivar ‘Halliana’ has a pronounced lemon-like perfume.



About Anya Pozdeeva, vifarms

Vertically Integrated Urbarn Aquaponics, Permaponics, Permaculture and Sustainable Living, New York Style!
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