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Advantages of weeds

weeds attract insects birds advantages

It sounds strange to think that weeds do have advantages.  This way of thinking is made difficult by our perception and definition that weeds do not have any use.  Plants classified as weeds are often removed without evaluating the environment first.  By removing one type of weed in an area does not prevent another, even worse kind to take over that will provide the owner of the land more problems.  Some of the advantages of weeds are:

  • Some weeds are aesthetically pleasant and can be used to visually enhance the environment.
  • Areas where no commercial plants can grow such as eroded soils, lava spills low rainfall areas and next to roads are ideal places for weeds or pioneer plants to settle.  Once these plants have settled, other seeds can germinate and grow.
  • There are many weeds that can be used as pasture crop such as Bromus unioloides (Rescue grass), Tribulus terrestris (Devil’s thorn), Hordeum murinum (Mouse barley or Wild barley) and Erodium cicutarium (Heronbill).  It is important to note that all these plants should be eaten by animals before they produce seed.
  • Pioneer plants are important in catchment areas where their presence stabilizes the soil for the water to run-off. Examples are Chrysocoma tenuifolia (Bitterkaroo), Pteronia pallens (Blue bush) and Helichrysum argyrophyllum (Golden guinea Everlasting).
  • The seed of many weeds can be used as additional protein
  • Many weeds provide flowers for bee’s to produce honey.  Some weeds have higher honey producing potential than others.
  • Plants have the potential to absorb various heavy metals in polluted waters.  These plants, such as the water hyacinth, can be milled and used as compost for other plants.
  • Weeds can be used as indicator plants such as Spergula arvensis which indicates that the soil has a low pH.
  • Many weeds provide a mulch for other crops in order to reduce evaporation.  These weeds must be cut at the right time, just before reproduction phase.
  • Many weeds are actually herbs that many people used for various purposes.
  • Some weeds are being planted for their oils.  Tagetes minuta is grown and harvested for the perfume industry.
  • It has been found in Holland that the milk is so pure that by adding certain weed seeds in the right amounts, the flavour of milk is improved.



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