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Common Name: Fig-Leaved Goosefoot
Chenopodium ficifolium is an annual plant that can grow up to 0.90 metres tall.
It has edible and miscellaneous uses.
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 toxic, saponins are poorly absorbed by the body and most pass straight through without any problem. They are also broken down to a large extent in the cooking process. Saponins are found in many foods, such as some beans. Saponins are much more toxic to some 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[
The plants also contain some oxalic acid, which in large quantities can lock up some of the nutrients in the food. However, even considering this, they are very nutritious vegetables in reasonable quantities. Cooking the plants will reduce their 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[
Central and southern Europe, including Britain, south and east to N. Africa and central Asia.
Waste ground and arable land, especially on rich soils and near compost heaps. Avoids acid soils[
An easily grown plant, succeeding in most soils but disliking shade[
]. It prefers a moderately fertile soil[
Leaves and flower buds - cooked[
]. Used like spinach or added to soups etc[
]. The raw leaves should only be eaten in small quantities, see the notes above on toxicity.
Seed - roasted and used as a condiment[
]. Used like sesame for flavouring foods[
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.