List of beneficial weeds

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This is a list of undomesticated or feral plants, generally considered weeds, yet having some positive effects or uses, often being ideal as companion plants in gardens.

Beneficial weeds can accomplish a number of roles in the garden or yard, including fertilizing the soil, increasing moisture, acting as shelter or living mulch, repelling pests, attracting beneficial insects, or serving as food or other resources for human beings.


Beneficial Weed Chart
Common name Scientific name Companion plant for Attracts/hosts Repels Traps Edibility Medicinal Avoid Comments
Bashful Mimosa Mimosa pudica ground cover for tomatoes, peppers predatory beetles Its extract immobilizes the filariform larvae of Strongyloides stercoralis in less than one hour.[1] In contemporary medicine, Mimosa pudica is being investigated for its potential to yield novel chemotherapeutic compounds. It contains an alkaloid called mimosine, which has been found to have potent antiproliferative and apoptotic effects.[2] Used as a natural ground cover in agriculture
Caper Spurge Euphorbia lathyris Moles Used in folk medicine as an antiseptic and purgative Many domesticated animals can eat it, although it is poisonous to humans.
Clover Trifolium Brassica (cabbage and cousins like broccoli and cauliflower), corn, cucurbits (cucumber, squash, melons, gourds) -- Along with fertilizing the soil, this plant provides a humid microclimate that benefits many plants by stabilizing their moisture Rabbits This legume is a high-protein source of food, but generally only eaten in survival situations Nightshades (tomato, pepper, eggplants) This legume hosts nitrogen-fixing bacteria in its roots, and therefore fertilizes the soil for neighboring plants. It is also used as a fallow plant by some farmers, and is a very popular fodder plant.
Cocklebur Xanthium Grasses and grains Army worms Is used in Chinese medicine Poisonous to some lifestock Also used for yellow dye
Common name Scientific name Companion plant for Attracts/hosts Repels Traps Edibility Medicinal Avoid Comments
Crow garlic Allium vineale fruit trees, nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, etc.), brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, kohlrabi, etc.) carrots slugs, aphids, carrot fly, cabbage worms[3] Can be used like conventional chives 3-mercapto-2-methylpentan-1-ol in onion was found to have an antioxidant potent that inhibits peroxynitrite induced diseases.[4] beans, peas, parsley This is a wild cousin of onions and garlic
Dandelion Taraxacum Various grains, tomato plants Honeybees Armyworms In season, leaves and flowers are edible Used as a diuretic in herbal medicine Tap root breaks up hardened soil and brings up nutrients from deep down, benefiting plants with weaker or shallower roots without competing with them.
Goldenrod Solidago Pear trees, Black Locust Tree, Sugar Maple Predatory wasps Various Lepidoptera larvae Numerous medicinal uses Contains latex, the automobile given to Thomas Edison by Henry Ford had tires made from goldenrod latex
Ground Ivy Glechoma hederacea Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and relatives (squash, melons), broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower cabbage worms, cucumber worms and beetles, tomato horn worms, others Can be used in herbal teas Used in the traditional medicine of Europe going back thousands of years. Inflammation of the eyes, tinnitus, a diuretic, astringent, tonic and gentle stimulant. See here for more. This wild mint makes a good ground cover companion plant, creating a humid microclimate, covering up nearby plant scents, and distracting pests from companion crops.
Common name Scientific name Companion plant for Attracts/hosts Repels Traps Edibility Medicinal Avoid Comments
Horsenettle Solanum carolinense Predatory beetles The berries of this fruit may be edible when cooked Ripe fruit, when cooked, is used by herbalists as a diuretic and sedative
Milkweed Asclepias Corn, basil, potatoes Predatory wasps and the Monarch butterfly Wireworms Folk remedy for warts, sap reduces poison ivy symptoms Can be used as a more effective insulator than goose down. Emits a chemical that breaks up hard soil, allowing nearby plants to develop healthier root systems. Basil repels some insects that attack milkweed.
Nasturtium Tropaeolum Most vegetables, especially brassica (cabbage, broccoli, et al.), cucurbits (cucumbers, melons, squash) and solanum (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, etc.) Predatory wasps Squash bugs, cucumber beetles, striped pumpkin beetles, woolly aphids trap crop for caterpillars and black aphids All parts of this plant are edible, flowers and leaves make brilliant salad decoration Considered one of the "magic bullet" companion plants, benefiting almost any crops around it in some way, and not known to hurt any
Nettle Urtica dioica broccoli, tomato , Valerian, mint, fennel Despite its "sting", young plant parts are edible, as is much of the plant when blanched or otherwise prepared. Also makes a nutritious herbal tea One of the most-used plants in herbal medicine, with a long list of benefits Also once grown as a crop for its fiber. Its juice was once used in the place of rennet in cheese-making. It was also a source of "green" for dye. It can still be used as a high-protein additive in animal feed, once dried.
Common name Scientific name Companion plant for Attracts/hosts Repels Traps Edibility Medicinal Avoid Comments
Purslane Portulaca oleracea corn, solanums like tomatoes and peppers Purslane is eaten throughout much of Europe and Mexico. It contains more Omega-3 fatty acids than any other leafy vegetable plant. It can be eaten in salad, stir-fried, or cooked like spinach. berries can be eaten like capers In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it is used to treat infections or bleeding of the genito-urinary tract as well as dysentery. It may also be applied topically to relieve sores and insect or snake bites on the skin. Dill, parsnip, radish Breaks up hard soil and hardpan, brings nutrients and water up from deeper than crops can reach, provides healthy ground cover, stabilizing soil moisture
Queen Anne's Lace Daucus carota Nightshades (especially tomatoes), alliums (onions, chives), lettuce predatory wasps and flies Young roots are edible Some recent scientific support for its historic use as a herbal contraceptive Dill, parsnip, radish Do not confuse with its poisonous cousin, water hemlock
Wild Mustard Brassicaceae Grape vine , radish, non-mustard brassica, including cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli Ladybugs Traps various brassica pests, including aphids Seeds and leaves are edible beets Domesticated mustard is a hybrid of three different species of wild mustard, all of which are still used in some places for food. This is known as the Triangle of U.
Wild Rose Rosa Strawberries, grapes, roses Rodents and deer Traps Japanese beetles Rose hips can be used in herbal teas Same medicinal benefits as domesticated rose This includes the feral multiflora rose, brought to the US both for use as root stock for domesticated roses, and as a "natural fence" for lifestock. In the mid 20th century miles of multiflora rose hedge were planted in sequence.
Common name Scientific name Companion plant for Attracts/hosts Repels Traps Edibility Medicinal Avoid Comments
Wild Vetch Vicia americana Pepper and tomato plants, brassica (cabbage, mustard, broccoli), other plants needing high nitrogen Provides ground cover for predatory beetles This legume fixes nitrogen, allow it to grow in a tomato garden only until time to plant, as ground cover. But can be left growing among brassica for additional nitrogen and microclimate

Categories of beneficial weeds



Habitat for beneficial insects

Shelter plants

Trap crops

Trap crops draw potential pests away from the actual crop intended for cultivation.

Medicinal use



  1. Robinson RD, Williams LA, Lindo JF, Terry SI, Mansingh A (1990). "Inactivation of strongyloides stercoralis filariform larvae in vitro by six Jamaican plant extracts and three commercial anthelmintics". West Indian Medical Journal. 39 (4): 213–7. PMID 2082565.
  2. "Antiproliferative effect of mimosine in ovarian cancer". Journal of Clinical Oncology. Retrieved 2010-01-13.
  3. nss abstracts
  4. Rose, Peter; Widder, S; Looft, J; Pickenhagen, W; Ong, CN; Whiteman, M; et al. (2003). "Inhibition of peroxynitrite-mediated cellular toxicity, tyrosine nitration, and α1-antiproteinase inactivation by 3-mercapto-2-methylpentan-1-ol, a novel compound isolated from Allium cepa". Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. 302 (2): 397–402. doi:10.1016/S0006-291X(03)00193-1. PMID 12604361.
  8. Schneider, Anny & Mellichamp, Larry (2002). Wild Medicinal Plants: What to Look For, When to Harvest, How to Use. Stackpole Books. p. 73. ISBN 9780811729871.

See also

Organic approaches


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