Atriplex muralis (L.) Crantz
Chenopodium biforme Nees
Chenopodium carthagenense Zucc.
Chenopodium congestum Hook.f.
Chenopodium guineense Jacq.
Chenopodium ilicifolium Griff.
Chenopodium longidjawense Peter
Chenopodium lucidum Gilib.
Chenopodium triangulare Forssk.
Rhagodia baccata (Labill.) Moq.
Rhagodia congesta (Hook.f.) Moq.
Vulvaria trachiosperma Bubani
Common Name: Nettleleaf Goosefoot
Chenopodium murale is an erect, usually many branched annual growing 30 - 100cm long[
The plant is sometimes gathered from the wild for local use as a food.
The plant is widely naturalized as a weed in the Americas[
], and has been classified as 'Invasive' in several Pacific Islands[
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[
Europe - Sweden south and east to N. Africa, southwest and southern Asia. Arabian Peninsula.
Dunes and in waste places, especially on light soils[
]. A weed in gardens, waste ground, or old fields, sporadic or in some localities plentiful, at elevations from 800 - 2,500 metres in Guatemala[
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A plant of temperate to subtropical regions, extending into the tropics as a weed of cultivation.
An easily grown plant, succeeding in most soils but disliking shade[
]. It prefers a moderately fertile soil[
Leaves and young shoots - raw or cooked as a 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 powder and mixed with wheat or other cereals and used in making bread 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.
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.