Anserina candidans (Lam.) Montandon
Atriplex alba (L.) Crantz
Atriplex viridis (L.) Crantz
Blitum viride (L.) Moench
Botrys alba (L.) Nieuwl.
Botrys pagana (Rchb.) Lunell
Chenopodium × borbasioides hircinifolium (Aellen) Hyl.
Chenopodium × densifoliatum (Ludw. & Aellen) F.Dvorák
Chenopodium agreste E.H.L.Krause
Chenopodium bernburgense (Murr) Druce
Chenopodium bicolor Bojer ex Moq.
Chenopodium borbasiforme (Murr) Druce
Chenopodium borbasii F.Murr
Chenopodium browneanum Schult.
Chenopodium candicans Lam.
Chenopodium catenulatum Schleich. ex Steud.
Chenopodium concatenatum Willd.
Chenopodium diversifolium montuosum F.Dvorák
Chenopodium elatum Shuttlew. ex Moq.
Chenopodium glomerulosum Rchb.
Chenopodium laciniatum Roxb.
Chenopodium lanceolatum Muhl. ex Willd.
Chenopodium lanceolatum R.Br.
Chenopodium leiospermum DC.
Chenopodium lobatum (Prodán) F.Dvorák
Chenopodium missouriense Aellen
Chenopodium neglectum Dumort.
Chenopodium neoalbum F.Dvorák
Chenopodium opulaceum Neck.
Chenopodium ovalifolium (Aellen) F.Dvorák
Chenopodium paganum Rchb.
Chenopodium paucidentatum (Aellen) F.Dvorák
Chenopodium pedunculare Bertol.
Chenopodium probstii Aellen
Chenopodium pseudoborbasii Murr
Chenopodium riparium Boenn. ex Moq.
Chenopodium serotinum Ledeb.
Chenopodium subaphyllum Phil.
Chenopodium superalbum F.Dvorák
Chenopodium viride L.
Chenopodium viridescens (St.-Amans) Dalla Torre & Sarnth.
Chenopodium vulgare Gueldenst. ex Ledeb.
Chenopodium vulpinum Buch.-Ham.
Chenopodium zobelii Murr ex Asch. & Graebn.
Vulvaria albescens Bubani
Common Name: Fat Hen
Chenopodium album is an erect, annual plant usually growing up to 150cm tall, though when growing in rich ground and in the longer daylengths in the temperate zone, it can sometimes reach up to 400cm[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine and, in some areas, is quite popular. A common weed of cultivated ground, it is also occasionally cultivated as a food crop[
The plant is a common weed of disturbed ground through much of the world.
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 these plants are very nutritious vegetables in reasonable quantities. Cooking the plant will reduce its content of oxalic acid. 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[
There is also a report that very large quantities of the leaves have caused photosensitivity in some people[
]. Only the raw leaves can cause problems, and then only if large quantities are consumed[
A further report says that if the plant is grown in soils that contain too much nitrates then the plant can concentrate these substances in the leaves. Nitrates have been shown to cause many health problems including stomach cancers and blue-baby syndrome.
In nitrogen-rich soils, the plants can also concentrate hydrogen cyanide[
]. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.
A virtually cosmopolitan plant.
A common weed of cultivated ground, especially on rich soils and old manure heaps[
]. It is often one of the first weeds to appear on newly cultivated soils[
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Fat hen can be found in most regions of the world, from cold temperate to the tropics, where it normally grows at higher elevations. It has a broad tolerance of climates, succeeding in areas with average temperatures ranging from 5 - 30°, and is tolerant of night frosts[
An easily grown plant, succeeding in most soils but disliking shade[
]. It prefers a moderately fertile soil[
]. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.5 to 8.3.
In moderate amounts this plant is a good companion for potatoes, corn and cucurbits[
The plant responds directly to the magnesium content of the soil so it can be used to indicate the presence of that element[
There is at least one named variety[
]. Called 'Magenta' in reference to the colour of its leaves, it is considered by some people to be the best tasting of all potherbs[
A very variable plant, it is generally considered to be a diverse aggregate species of predominantly hexaploid taxa[
Leaves - raw or cooked[
]. A very acceptable spinach substitute[
], the taste is a little bland but this can be improved by adding a few stronger-flavoured leaves[
]. One report says that, when eaten with beans, the leaves will act as a carminative to prevent wind and bloating[
]. The leaves are best not eaten raw, see the notes above on toxicity[
]. The leaves are generally very nutritious but very large quantities can disturb the nervous system and cause gastric pain[
]. The leaves contain about 3.9% protein, 0.76% fat, 8.93% carbohydrate, 3% ash[
]. A zero moisture basis analysis is also available[
Edible seed - dried and ground into a meal and eaten raw or baked into a bread[[
]. The seed can also be sprouted and added to salads[
]. The seed is very fiddly to harvest and use due to its small size[
]. Although it is rather small, we have found the seed very easy to harvest and simple enough to utilize[
]. The seed should be soaked in water overnight and thoroughly rinsed before being used in order to remove any saponins. The seed contains about 49% carbohydrate, 16% protein, 7% ash, 5.88% ash[
Young inflorescences - cooked[
]. A tasty broccoli substitute[
Fat hen is not employed in herbal medicine, though it does have some gentle medicinal properties and is a very nutritious and healthy addition to the diet[
The leaves are anthelmintic, antiphlogistic, antirheumatic, mildly laxative, odontalgic[
]. An infusion is taken in the treatment of rheumatism[
]. The leaves are applied as a wash or poultice to bug bites, sunstroke, rheumatic joints and swollen feet, whilst a decoction is used for carious teeth[
The seeds are chewed in the treatment of urinary problems and are considered useful for relieving the discharge of semen through the urine[
The juice of the stems is applied to freckles and sunburn[
The juice of the root is used in the treatment of bloody dysentery[
Food that comprises 25.5% of the powdered herb may suppress the oestrus cycle[
A green dye is obtained from the young shoots[
The crushed fresh roots are a mild soap substitute[
In a trial, a methane extract of the leaves at a concentration of 10,000ppm in distilled water reduced the egg hatching of root nematodes by 99% after 21 days compared with a control[
Seed - sow spring in situ. Most of the seed usually germinates within a few days of sowing. It is usually unnecessary to sow the seed since the plant is a common garden weed and usually self-sows freely in most soils.