Wild Greens


Wild greens are edible plants that thrive without a gardeners hand in untended plots and even in the cracked pavements of the city. Also included are weeds in a home garden that are pulled up and discarded. Surprisingly, these can be a rich and plentiful source of nutritious greens — and free of charge.

It is important though to identify them properly (google their names to see images from all angles) and if you are collecting them from a wild area make sure it is not by the roadside where it can absorb heavy metals from automobile fumes. Plants that like wetland type situations can also absorb unhealthy elements - make sure its not rooted in tainted water. What may look like a wild patch could also be subject to occasional chemical pesticide spraying by local authorities - be wary of that too.

A solution to the above may be to pull the plant up by the roots and establish in your own garden, ideally in pots or a corner of the garden where their invasiveness will not be a concern. If you have fruit trees or a small orchard — under the trees would be a perfect spot where you can leave them to thrive and occasionally mow or harvest.

Chinese Violet, Asystasia gangetica

Native to South East Asia, Chinese Violet can be a noxious weed, but if you have space for it to colonise — its a great source and constant supply of green vegetables. Good in soups, quiches and omelettes as a spinach substitute. Use leaves only, discard fibrous stems. Flowers can be used in salads.

The nutritional composition of Asystasia gangetica leaves per 100 g edible portion is: water 82.6 g, energy 234 kJ (56 kcal), protein 3.7 g, fat 1.2 g, carbohydrate 10.4 g, Ca 226 mg, P 30 mg, Fe 4.7 mg, carotene 6250 μg, thiamin 0.19 mg, riboflavin 0.21 mg, niacin 1.0 mg, ascorbic acid 42 mg (Leung, W.-T.W., Butrum, R.R. & Chang, F.H., 1972). Extracts of Asystasia gangetica have shown analgesic and anti-asthmatic properties in pharmacological tests.

Alternanthera Sessilis

This plant is widely distributed through the tropics and can be found almost everywhere here in Malaysia. Leaves are used for food as well as medicine, the red form below is often sold in local night markets. Nice recipe here

Alternanthera Sessilis Red form
Lambsquarters, Chenopodium album,

The leaves and young shoots can be eaten as a leaf vegetable but should be cooked, and eaten in moderation due to high levels of oxalic acid, large quantities can disturb the nervous system and cause gastric pain. Good info here.

Nutritional info: 3.9% protein, 0.76% fat, 8.93% carbohydrate, 3%, 260 Calories per 100g, Protein: 24g; Fat: 5g; Carbohydrate: 45g; Fibre: 15g; Ash: 28g, Minerals — Calcium: 2300mg; Phosphorus: 500mg; Iron: 25mg; Vitamins — A: 31583mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.67mg; Riboflavin (B2): 1.58mg; Niacin: 2.5mg; B6: 0mg; C: 0mg;

Peperomia Pellucid

Every gardener knows this weed because it pops up everywhere. Particularly good as part of a mix of greens in a salad as it has a crunch and slight spiciness. Can also be used as a cooked green.

A 100 grams portion of P. pellucida has approximately 277 mg of potassium. It also has: 1.1 grams carbohydrates, 0.5 gram protein, 0.5 gram fat, 94 mg calcium, 13 mg phosphorous, 4.3 mg iron, 1250 mg beta carotene and 2 mg ascorbic acid. Its leaves have also been used to make tea.

From: Eat the Weeds

Centella Asiatica

Native to wetlands in Asia and popular here as ulam, local name Pucuk Pegaga. Good for salad. Nice recipe here, which is a good base recipe for wild greens that are a little more fibrous or like this one — with a slight bitter flavour ie chopped fine and mixed with chopped onions, lime and grated coconut. Easy to find at local markets with roots intact.

Pennywort, Hydrocotyle umbellata

Often sold in the market as Pucuk Pegaga because of its longer, easier to harvest stems, Hydrocotyle umbellata is in fact a different plant altogether and a little more leathery than Centella Asiatica. Either cut it fine for use in salads or blend it for its colour in a drink or sauce.

Celosia Argenta

Not stricly wild but seeds itself quite randomly all over a garden . If you grow it for its flowers in your garden then youll have plenty of these young weeds to make a nice spinach like cooked vegetable.

Wild Ferns, Green: Pucuk Paku, Diplazium esculentum, red: Pucuk Piai,

The young red leaved shoots of Acrostichum aureum need to be sauteed after discarding the stems. The green Diplazium esculentum is more tender and can be cooked or eaten raw in a salads minus the woodier stems. These were bought at the farmers market foraged by villagers.

Wood Sorrel, Oxalis acetosellal

Wood sorrel has a sour tang and is great as an accent in salads. Use only the leaves and discard fibrous stems. There is both a green and blackish form.