Today, I came across a new book that has just been published in my home area of Maryland called A Quick Guide to Wild Edible Plants: Easy to Pick, Easy to Prepare. One of the wild edibles mentioned in the book is tearthumb or mile-a-minute weed (Polygonum perfoliatum), a nasty invasive plant that plagues our home in Maryland by climbing over plants, smothering my mother's wonderful garden, and becoming larger and more problematic every year. So I am delighted to find out that it's berries are edible!!
According to the US Forest Service, Mile-a-Minute weed is edible by humans and has a high potassium content. Does this mean we could skip imported tropical bananas and eat seeds from the garden instead!? And, based on the following excerpt from a journal article written about Mile-a-Minute weed, it is not only edible, but it is also use in Asia as an herbal medicine and could even be used as an anticancer agent! I wonder, if we started eating the seeds if it would cause even a small dent in the speed this invasive is taking over?
CURRENT AND POTENTIAL USES
In its native eastern Asia, mile-a-minute is considered beneﬁcial and has been used as an herbal medicine for over 300 yr (He et al. 1984; Hoque et al. 1989; Sook and Myung 1992; Yang and Kim 1993; Zhu 1989), or as an edible wild fruit (Bajracharya 1980). The plant also serves as a suitable food source for a diverse group of mammals, birds, and insects. Two protein kinase C inhibitors (PKC), vanicosides A and B; ﬁve diferuloyl esters of sucrose; and feruloylsucroses have been isolated from mile-a-minute plants (Sun 1999; Sun et al. 2000). PKC are involved in cell signal transduction and cell proliferation and are believed to be tumor promoters; thus PKC inhibitors could be used as potential anticancer agents (Sun 1999). Two well-known natural products, quercetin and beta-sitosterol, have also been isolated from mile-a-minute (Sun 1999). Beta-sitosterol is also reported to have anticarcinogenic properties (Park et al. 2003). The bioﬂavonoid quercetin has antioxidant (Boadi et al. 2003; Kumar et al. 2003; Pietruck et al. 2003), antiproliferative, and anti-inﬂammatory properties (Pietruck et al. 2003).
Kumar, V., & Ditommaso, A . (2005). Mile-a-Minute (Polygonum perfoliatum): an increasingly problematic invasive species. Weed Technology 19(4), 1071-1077.