Some recent works, notably the Flora of N. America[
], now use the name Dysphania graveolens for this species (treated here as a synonym)[
Chenopodium ambrosioides graveolens (Willd.) Speg.
Chenopodium incisum Poir.
Chenopodium mandonii (S.Watson) Aellen
Chenopodium rigidum Lingelsh.
Dysphania graveolens (Willd.) Mosyakin & Clemants
Teloxys mandonii S.Watson
Common Name: Foetid Goosefoot
Chenopodium graveolens is a strongly scented annual plant growing 20 - 90cm tall. The plant is sometimes unbranched, sometimes with side branches[
The plant is harvested from the wild for its edible leaves and seed, which are eaten 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[
S. America - Argentina, Bolivia, Peru; C. America - Guatemala; Southwestern N. America - Mexico, Colorado, Arizona 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.
|Other Uses Rating
A plant mainly of the temperate to subtropical zones, extending into the tropics at elevations of 1,800 metres or more[331[.
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.