The Temperate Database is in the process of being updated, with new records being added and old ones being checked and brought up to date where necessary. This record has not yet been checked and updated.
Chenopodium acuminatum is an annual plant that can grow up to 0.60 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and source of materials.
The leaves and seeds of all members of this genus are more or less edible. However, many of the species in this genus contain saponins, though usually in quantities too small to do any harm. Although poisonous, saponins also have a range of medicinal applications and many saponin-rich plants are used in herbalism (particularly as emetics, expectorants and febrifuges) or as sources of raw materials for the pharmaceutical industry. Saponins are also found in a number of common foods, such as many beans.
Saponins have a quite bitter flavour and are in general poorly absorbed by the human body, so most pass through without harm. They can be removed by carefully leaching in running water. Thorough cooking, and perhaps changing the cooking water once, will also normally remove most of them. However, it is not advisable to eat large quantities of raw foods that contain saponins.
Saponins are much more toxic to many cold-blooded creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish and make them easy to catch[
The plants also contain some oxalic acid, which in large quantities can lock up some of the nutrients in the food, but, even considering this, they are very nutritious vegetables in reasonable quantities. Cooking the plant will reduce its oxalic acid content. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition[
E. Asia - China, Japan, Korea.
Wastelands, riverbanks and field margins in northern China[
We have very little information on this species and do not know how well it will grow in Britain, but it should succeed as a spring sown annual. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus.
An easily grown plant, succeeding in most soils but disliking shade[
]. It prefers a moderately fertile soil[
Leaves - cooked[
]. Used like spinach, they have a mild flavour. The raw leaves should only be eaten in small quantities, see the notes above on toxicity.
Seed - cooked. Rich in protein. It can be ground into a flour and used in making bread etc. The small black seed is about 1mm in diameter[
] and somewhat fiddly to utilize. It should be soaked in water overnight and thoroughly rinsed before it is used in order to remove any saponins.
Gold/green dyes can be obtained from the whole plant[
Seed - sow spring in situ[
]. Most of the seed usually germinates within a few days of sowing.