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Common Name: Red Goosefoot
Chenopodium rubrum is an annual plant that can grow up to 0.60 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and source of materials.
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[
Most of Europe, including Britain, east to central Asia. Also in N. America..
Waste and cultivated land, often near the sea, also in farmyards and rubbish tips[
An easily grown plant, succeeding in most soils but disliking shade[
]. it prefers a moderately fertile soil[
Leaves - raw or cooked as a spinach[
]. The raw leaves should only be eaten in small quantities, see the notes above on toxicity.
Seed - ground into a powder and used with cereal flours to make bread, cakes 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.