Chenopodium album amaranthicolor H.J.Coste & A.Reyn.
Chenopodium album centrorubrum Makino
Chenopodium album purpurascens (Jacq.) Kuntze
Chenopodium amaranticolor (H.J.Coste & A.Reyn.) H.J.Coste & A.Reyn.
Chenopodium atriplicis L.f.
Chenopodium bonariense Moq.
Chenopodium centrorubrum (Makino) Nakai
Chenopodium elegantissimum Koidz.
Chenopodium leucospermum Schrad.
Chenopodium mairei H.Lév.
Chenopodium punctulatum Scop.
Chenopodium purpurascens Gadec.
Chenopodium purpurascens Jacq.
Chenopodium rubricaule Schrad. ex Moq.
Common Name: Tree Spinach
Chenopodium giganteum is an erect, much branched annual plant growing 1 - 3 metres tall[
The plant is harvested from the wild, and also sometimes cultivated for its edible leaves and seeds, which are used locally.
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. 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[
Widely cultivated, the original range is obscure, possible northern India.
Weed infested places[
|Other Uses Rating
An easily grown plant, succeeding in most soils but disliking shade[
]. It prefers a moderately fertile soil[
This species is closely related to C. album[
], and was probably derived from it through cultivation[
There are some named varieties[
]. 'Magentaspreen' is a vigorous plant growing 1.5 metres tall. It has large leaves, the new growth is a brilliant magenta colour. Tastiest when young, the leaves are eaten raw or cooked like spinach[
A warm climate is required in order to ripen the seed[
Leaves - cooked[
]. Of excellent quality, they are a spinach substitute[
]. The raw leaves should only be eaten in small quantities, see the notes above on toxicity.
Seed - cooked. Ground into a powder and used with wheat or other cereals in making bread etc. The seed is small and fiddly, about 1.5mm in diameter[
], 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[
The stout stems have been used for making walking sticks[
Seed - sow spring in situ. Most of the seed usually germinates within a few days of sowing.