Chenopodium is a genus of numerous species of perennial or annual herbaceous flowering plants known as the goosefoots, which occur almost anywhere in the world.[2] It is placed in the family Amaranthaceae in the APG II system; older classification systems, notably the widely used Cronquist system, separate it and its relatives as Chenopodiaceae,[3] but this leaves the rest of the Amaranthaceae polyphyletic. However, among the Amaranthaceae, the genus Chenopodium is the namesake member of the subfamily Chenopodioideae.

In Australia, the larger Chenopodium species are among the plants called "bluebushes". Chualar in California is named after a Native American term for a goosefoot abundant in the region, probably the California goosefoot (Blitum californicum).

Chenopodium berlandieri NPS-1
Chenopodium berlandieri
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Amaranthaceae
Subfamily: Chenopodioideae
Tribe: Atripliceae
Genus: Chenopodium

See text

  • Einadia Raf.
  • Rhagodia R.Br.
  • Vulvaria Bubani, nom. illeg
  • Chenopodium sect. Leprophyllum Dumort.
  • Chenopodium sect. Chenopodiastrum Moq.


Chenopodium album (4032134406)
White goosefoot (Chenopodium album)

The species of Chenopodium (s.str., description according to Fuentes et al. 2012)[1] are annual or perennial herbs, shrubs or small trees. They are nonaromatic, but sometimes fetid. The young stems and leaves are often densely covered by vesicular globose hairs, thus looking farinose. Characteristically, these trichomes persist, collapsing later and becoming cup-shaped. The branched stems grow erect, ascending, prostrate or scrambling. Lateral branches are alternate (the lowermost ones can be nearly opposite). The alternate or opposite leaves are petiolate. Their thin or slightly fleshy leaf blade is linear, rhombic or triangular-hastate, with entire or dentate or lobed margins.

Inflorescences are standing terminal and lateral. They consist of spicately or paniculately arranged glomerules of flowers. Plants are monoecious (rarely dioecious). In monoecious plants flowers are dimorphic or pistillate. Flowers consist of (4–) 5 perianth segments connate. basally or close to the middle, usually membranous margined and with a roundish to keeled back; almost always 5 stamens, and one ovary with 2 stigmas.

In fruit, perianth segments become sometimes coloured, but mostly keep unchanged, somewhat closing over or spreading from the fruit. Pericarp membranous or sometimes succulent, adherent to or loosely covering the seed. The horizontally oriented seeds are depressed-globular to lenticular, with rounded to subacute margin. The black seed coat is almost smooth to finely striate, rugulose or pitted.

Uses and human importance

Quinoa cuit
Cooked quinoa (C. quinoa) seeds

The genus Chenopodium contains several plants of minor to moderate importance as food crops as leaf vegetables – used like the closely related spinach (Spinacia oleracea) and similar plants called quelite in Mexico – and pseudocereals. These include white goosefoot (C. album), kañiwa (C. pallidicaule) and quinoa (C. quinoa). On the Greek island of Crete, tender shoots and leaves of a species called krouvida (κρουβίδα) or psarovlito (ψαρόβλητο) are eaten by the locals, boiled or steamed. As studied by Kristen Gremillion and others, goosefoots have a history of culinary use dating back to 4000 BC or earlier, when pitseed goosefoot (C. berlandieri) was a staple crop in the Native American eastern agricultural complex, and white goosefoot was apparently used by the Ertebølle culture of Europe. Members of the eastern Yamnaya culture also harvested white goosefoot as an apparent cereal substitute to round out an otherwise mostly meat and dairy diet c. 3500–2500 BCE.

There is increased interest in particular in goosefoot seeds today, which are suitable as part of a gluten-free diet. Quinoa oil, extracted from the seeds of C. quinoa, has similar properties, but is superior in quality, to corn oil. Oil of chenopodium is extracted from the seeds of epazote, which is not in this genus anymore. Shagreen leather was produced in the past using the small, hard goosefoot seeds. C. album was one of the main model organisms for the molecular biological study of chlorophyllase.

Goosefoot pollen, in particular of the widespread and usually abundant C. album, is an allergen to many people and a common cause of hay fever. The same species, as well as some others, have seeds which are able to persist for years in the soil seed bank. Many goosefoot species are thus significant weeds, and some have become invasive species.

The 1889 book The Useful Native Plants of Australia records:

     This is another of the salt-bushes, which, besides being invaluable food for stock, can be eaten by man. All plants of the Natural Order Chenopodiaceae (Salsolacese) are more or less useful in this respect.

     The following account of its practical utilization will be of interest:—
     “We have recently gathered an abundant harvest of leaves from two or three plants growing in our garden. These leaves were put into boiling water to blanch them, and they were then cooked as an ordinary dish of spinach, with this difference in favour of the new plant, that there was no occasion to take away the threads which are so disagreeable in chicory, sorrel, and ordinary spinach. We partook of this dish with relish—the flavour—analogous to spinach, had something in it more refined, less grassy in taste. The cultivation is easy: sow the seed in April (October) in a well-manured bed, for the plant is greedy; water it. The leaves may be gathered from the time the plant attains 50 centimetres (say 20 inches) in height. They grow up again quickly. In less than eight days afterwards another gathering may take place, and so on to the end of the year.”—
Journal de la Ferme et des Maisons de campagne, quoted in Pharm. Journ. [2] viii., 734.[4]


Certain species grow in large thickets, providing cover for small animals. Goosefoot foliage is used as food by the caterpillars of certain Lepidoptera. The seeds are eaten by many birds, such as the yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella) of Europe or the white-winged fairy-wren (Malurus leucopterus) of Australia. Goosefoot pathogens include the positive-sense ssRNA viruses - apple stem grooving virus, sowbane mosaic virus and tobacco necrosis virus.


The genus Chenopodium was described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753 (In: Species Plantarum, Vol. 1, p. 218–222). Type species is Chenopodium album. This generic name is derived from the particular shape of the leaf, which is similar to a goose's foot: from Greek χήν (chen), "goose" and πούς (pous), "foot" or ποδίον (podion), "little foot".

In its traditional circumscription, Chenopodium comprised about 170 species.[2] Phylogenetic research revealed, that the genus was highly polyphyletic and did not reflect how species were naturally related. Therefore, a new classification was necessary. Mosyakin & Clemants (2002, 2008) separated the glandular species as genus Dysphania (which includes epazote) and Teloxys in tribe Dysphanieae. Fuentes-Bazan et al. (2012) separated many species to genera Blitum (in tribe Anserineae), Chenopodiastrum, Lipandra, and Oxybasis (like Chenopodium in tribe Atripliceae). They included Rhagodia and Einadia in Chenopodium.[1]

Selected species

Chenopodium ficifolium

Excluded species

Fossil record

Chenopodium wetzleri fossil seeds of the Chattian stage, Oligocene, are known from the Oberleichtersbach Formation in the Rhön Mountains, cental Germany.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Susy Fuentes-Bazan, Pertti Uotila, Thomas Borsch: A novel phylogeny-based generic classification for Chenopodium sensu lato, and a tribal rearrangement of Chenopodioideae (Chenopodiaceae). In: Willdenowia. Vol. 42, No. 1, 2012, p. 5-24.
  2. ^ a b Gelin Zhu, Sergei L. Mosyakin & Steven E. Clemants: Chenopodium - In: Wu Zhengyi, Peter H. Raven, Deyuan Hong (Hrsg.): Flora of China. Volume 5: Ulmaceae through Basellaceae. Science Press/Missouri Botanical Garden Press, Beijing/St. Louis 2003, ISBN 1-930723-27-X, p. 378-.
  3. ^ Wikisource Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Chenopodium" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 80.
  4. ^ J. H. Maiden (1889). The useful native plants of Australia : Including Tasmania. Turner and Henderson, Sydney. pp. 15–16.
  5. ^ English Names for Korean Native Plants (PDF). Pocheon: Korea National Arboretum. 2015. p. 407. ISBN 978-89-97450-98-5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 24 December 2016 – via Korea Forest Service.
  6. ^ The floral change in the tertiary of the Rhön mountains (Germany) by Dieter Hans Mai - Acta Paleobotanica 47(1): 135-143, 2007.

Further reading

Blitum bonus-henricus

Blitum bonus-henricus (syn. Chenopodium bonus-henricus), also called Good-King-Henry, Poor-man's Asparagus, Perennial Goosefoot, Lincolnshire Spinach, Markery, English mercury, or mercury goosefoot, is a species of goosefoot which is native to much of central and southern Europe.

Good-King-Henry has been grown as a vegetable in cottage gardens for hundreds of years, although this dual-purpose vegetable is now rarely grown and the species is more often considered a weed.

Blitum capitatum

Strawberry blite (Blitum capitatum, syn. Chenopodium capitatum) is an edible annual plant, also known as blite goosefoot, strawberry goosefoot, strawberry spinach, Indian paint, and Indian ink.

It is native to most of North America throughout the United States and Canada, including northern areas. It is considered to be endangered in Ohio. It is also found in parts of Europe and New Zealand.

Fruit are small, pulpy, bright red and edible, resembling strawberries. The juice from the fruit was also used as a red dye by native North Americans. The fruits contain small, black, lens-shaped seeds that are 0.7-1.2 mm long. The greens are edible raw or as a potherb, but if raw should be eaten in moderation as they contain oxalates. The seeds may be toxic in large amounts.Strawberry blite is found in moist mountain valleys.

Chenopodiastrum murale

Chenopodiastrum murale, (Syn. Chenopodium murale) is a species of plant in the amaranth family known by the common names Nettle-leaved Goosefoot, Australian-spinach, salt-green, and sowbane. This plant is native to Europe and parts of Asia and northern Africa, but it is widespread worldwide, particularly in tropical and subtropical areas due to the ease of it being introduced. It is a common weed of fields and roadsides.


The Chenopodioideae are a subfamily of the flowering plant family Amaranthaceae in the APG III system, which is largely based on molecular phylogeny, but were included - together with other subfamilies - in family Chenopodiaceae in the Cronquist system.

Food species comprise Spinach (Spinacia oleracea), Good King Henry (Blitum bonus-henricus), several Chenopodium species (Quinoa, Kañiwa, Fat Hen), Orache (Atriplex spp.), and Epazote (Dysphania ambrosioides).

Chenopodium album

Chenopodium album is a fast-growing weedy annual plant in the genus Chenopodium.

Though cultivated in some regions, the plant is elsewhere considered a weed. Common names include lamb's quarters, melde, goosefoot, manure weed, and fat-hen, though the latter two are also applied to other species of the genus Chenopodium, for which reason it is often distinguished as white goosefoot. It is sometimes also called pigweed. However, pigweed is also a name for a few weeds in the family Amaranthaceae; it is for example used for the redroot pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus).

Chenopodium album is extensively cultivated and consumed in Northern India as a food crop, and in English texts it may be called by its Hindi name bathua or bathuwa (बथुआ) (Marathi:चाकवत). It is called pappukura in Telugu, paruppukkirai in Tamil, kaduoma in Kannada, vastuccira in Malayalam, and chakvit in Konkani.

Chenopodium berlandieri

Chenopodium berlandieri, also known by the common names pitseed goosefoot, huauzontle, lamb's quarters, and lambsquarters is an annual herbaceous plant in the goosefoot family.

The species is widespread in North America, where its range extends from Canada south to Michoacán, Mexico. It is found in every U.S. state except Hawaii. The fast-growing, upright plant can reach heights of more than 3 m. It can be differentiated from most of the other members of its large genus by its honeycomb-pitted seeds, and further separated by its serrated, more or less evenly lobed lower leaves.Although widely regarded as a weed, this species was once one of several plants cultivated by Native Americans in prehistoric North America as part of the Eastern Agricultural Complex. C. berlandieri was a domesticated pseudocereal crop, similar to the closely related quinoa C. quinoa. It continues to be cultivated in Mexico as a pseudocereal, as a leaf vegetable, and for its broccoli-like flowering shoots.

Chenopodium giganteum

Chenopodium giganteum, also known as tree spinach, is an annual, upright many-branched shrub with a stem diameter of up to 5 cm at the base, that can grow to a height of up to 3 m.

Chenopodium pallidicaule

Chenopodium pallidicaule, known as cañihua, canihua or cañahua (from Quechua qañiwa, qañawa or qañawi) and also kaniwa, is a species of goosefoot, similar in character and uses to the closely related quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa).

Cañihua is native to the Andean region, with more than 200 varieties, and it has been farmed in the Altiplano for millennia. As a crop, cañihua has distinct characteristics, including tolerance of high mountain conditions, high content of protein and dietary fiber, and rich phenolic content.

Chenopodium vulvaria

Chenopodium vulvaria, the stinking goosefoot or notchweed, is a foul-smelling plant or weed. The plant is a member of the genus Chenopodium, the goosefoots.

Chrysoesthia sexguttella

Chrysoesthia sexguttella is a moth of the family Gelechiidae. It is found in all of Europe, east to southern Siberia, as well as the north-eastern parts of North America, where it might be an introduced species.

The wingspan is 8–10 mm. Adults are on wing from May to June and again from August to September. There are two generations per year.

The larvae mine the leaves of Atriplex species (including Atriplex cakotheca, Atriplex hastata, Atriplex hortensis, Atriplex littoralis, Atriplex prostrata, Atriplex nitens, Atriplex patula and Atriplex sibirica), Chenopodium species (including Chenopodium album, Chenopodium bonus-henricus, Chenopodium giganteum, Chenopodium glaucum, Chenopodium hybridum, Chenopodium murale, Chenopodium opulifolium, Chenopodium polyspermum, Chenopodium quinoa, Chenopodium urbicum and Chenopodium vulvaria), Amaranthus blitum, Amaranthus caudatus, Bassia scoparia and Spinacia. They form a contorted gallery on the surface of the leaves.

Coleophora vestianella

"Tinea vestianella" redirects here. This name was often misapplied to the skin moth (Monopis laevigella) and the common clothes moth (Tineola bissellella) in former times.

Coleophora vestianella is a moth of the family Coleophoridae. It is found from Europe to Asia Minor, Iran, Afghanistan, China, the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

The wingspan is 11–16 mm. Adults are on wing from June to August.The larvae feed on Chenopodium (including Chenopodium album) and Atriplex species (including Atriplex patula). They feed on the generative organs of their host plant.

Dysphania ambrosioides

Dysphania ambrosioides, formerly Chenopodium ambrosioides, known as wormseed, Jesuit's tea, Mexican-tea, payqu (paico), epazote, mastruz, or herba sanctæ Mariæ, is an annual or short-lived perennial herb native to Central America, South America, and southern Mexico.

Dysphania botrys

Dysphania botrys (syn. Chenopodium botrys), the Jerusalem oak goosefoot, sticky goosefoot or feathered geranium, is a flowering plant in the genus Dysphania (the glandular goosefoots). It is native to the Mediterranean region.

Jerusalem oak goosefoot was formerly classed in the genus Ambrosia, with the binomial name Ambrosia mexicana. It is naturalised in the United States and Mexico, the old species synonym deriving from the latter.

Eupithecia sinuosaria

Eupithecia sinuosaria, the goosefoot pug, is a moth of the family Geometridae. It is endemic to Eastern Asia, but has expanded its range to Central Europe.

The length of the fore-wings is 10–12 mm. The moth flies from June to August depending on the location.

The larvae feed on Chenopodium album, Chenopodium pratericola, Chenopodium hybridum, Chenopodium glaucum, Atriplex patula and Polygonum aviculare.

Oxybasis chenopodioides

Oxybasis chenopodioides, (Syn. Chenopodium chenopodioides) is a species of flowering plant in the amaranth family known by the common name low goosefoot.

It is native to South America, but it is known in widespread parts of Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America as an introduced species.It grows in wet non-saline and saline soils, such as mudflats, salt marshes, and lake margins.

It is an annual herb growing erect to heights approaching 35 to 45 centimeters, or prostrate in a creeping mat. It is green to magenta in color and non-aromatic. The leaves may be several centimeters long and vary in shape from smooth-edged and oval to triangular and lobed or toothed. The inflorescence is a small, dense cluster of tiny flowers, each flower with its three-lobed calyx enclosing the developing fruit.

Oxybasis rubra

Oxybasis rubra(syn. Chenopodium rubrum), common names red goosefoot or coastblite goosefoot, is a member of the genus Oxybasis, a segregate of Chenopodium (the goosefoots). It is native to North America and Eurasia. It is an annual plant.


Quinoa ( or , from Quechua kinwa or kinuwa) is an annual seed-producing flowering plant (Chenopodium quinoa) grown as a grain crop. It is a pseudocereal, not a grass, unlike wheat and rice. It is botanically related to spinach.

Quinoa seeds are rich in protein, dietary fiber, B vitamins, and dietary minerals in amounts greater than in many grains. It is gluten-free.

Quinoa is cultivated in the Andes Mountains of Bolivia, Argentina, and Peru where it originated; in Colorado; and in six European countries. After harvest, the seeds are processed to remove the bitter-tasting outer seed coat.

Quinoa crop prices tripled between 2006 and 2013 as a result of increased consumption in North America, Europe, and Australasia.Quinoa originated in the Andean region of northwestern South America. It was first used to feed livestock 5.2-7 thousand years ago, and for human consumption 3-4 thousand years ago in the Lake Titicaca basin of Peru and Bolivia.


Saltbush can refer to:

Atriplex, is distributed nearly worldwide from subtropical to temperate and to subarctic regions. Most species rich are Australia, North America, South America and Eurasia. Many species are halophytes and are adapted to dry environments with salty soils.

Certain members of genus Chenopodium, including:

Chenopodium robertianum (Syn. Einadia hastata, Ragodia hastata), commonly called berry saltbush, found in open areas of eastern Australia.

Chenopodium nutans, commonly called climbing, or nodding saltbush, native to Australia. The small leaves are semi-succulent, and have a distinctive arrowhead shape. The plant has conspicuous, tiny, bright-red berries during early autumn.

Sarcobatus vermiculatus, native to North America, is a halophyte, usually found in sunny, flat areas around the margins of playas

Plants called saltbush

Scrobipalpa atriplicella

Scrobipalpa atriplicella, the goosefoot groundling moth, is a moth of the family Gelechiidae. It is found from most of Europe throughout Asia to Kamchatka and Japan. It is an introduced species in North America.The wingspan is 10–14 mm. There are two generations per year with adults on wing in May and again from July to August.The larvae feed on Atriplex laciniata, Atriplex patula, Atriplex prostrata, Atriplex tatarica, Beta vulgaris, Chenopodium album, Chenopodium ficifolium, Chenopodium hybridum, Chenopodium murale, Chenopodium quinoa and Halimione portulacoides. The young larvae mine the leaves of their host plant. The mine is irregular corridor-like or blotch-like, it is created from within a silken tube. The mines contain little to no frass. The larvae have a greenish yellow body and yellowish brown head. They can be found in June and from September to October.

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