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Common Name: Foetid Goosefoot
Chenopodium graveolens is a Annual up to 0.90 metres tall.
It has edible, medicinal 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[
Southwestern N. America - Arizone to Texas.
In shade of pines and junipers or occasionally in open dry plains, ridge tops, or in waste areas in the east; 900-2800 metres[
]. A common weed of cultivated ground, especially on rich soils.
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. According to the Flora of North America, the correct name for this species is Dysphania graveolens[
]. 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 - raw or cooked. Used like spinach[
]. The raw leaves should only be eaten in small quantities, see the notes above on toxicity.
Seed - cooked. It can be ground into a meal and used with cereal flours in making bread, dumplings etc[
]. The seed is small and fiddly, it should be soaked in water overnight and thoroughly rinsed before it is used in order to remove any saponins.
The plant has been steeped in hot water and the steam inhaled as a treatment for headaches[
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.