The Forager's Path - School of Botanical Studies

Plant Profile: Chenopodium album

Botanical Name:goosefoot, chenopodium, lambsquarters
Chenopodium album

Spinach, beets, chard and quinoa are also in this family

Common Names:
Goosefoot, Lambsquarters

Primary Characteristics for Field ID:
The leaves are in the shape of a goose’s foot which helps with the field ID for a non-botanist.

Part Used for Medicine:
Fresh leaves and fresh tips

Habitat in Which it is Found/ Harvesting Season/ Special Considerations:
Very common in the southwest from 3,000’ up to 7500’. It is abundant in the Verde Valley and up through Sedona, Oak Creek Canyon and the Ponderosa forest around Flagstaff.
Look for it wherever soil has been disturbed – gardens, along trails, edges of parking lots, uprooted trees.
The seeds sprout with the rainy season. This may be the spring at lower elevations. Around Flagstaff, it is July and August.

Energy & Tastes:
Mildly bitter, cooling and drying as are most greens. The energetics of this plant should not be a problem for anyone if this eaten in combination with other foods.

A wide assortment of minerals and vitamins.

Add this food to your diet to increase fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Safety Issues & Contraindications:
This plant contains oxalic acid, as do almonds, chocolate, bananas, tea, beer and spinach.
It should pose no problem for people who eat it as a part of the larger diet.
It may cause problems if people go on a ”goosefoot fast” and eat nothing else for a few days or if people continually add large handfuls of it to their morning smoothie.
It may cause problems for people who are prone to kidney stones or gout.
The high calcium content of this plant helps to balance the affects of oxalic acid.
Chenopodium greens have been eaten by humans for millenia. I have eaten it for decades with no issues.
If you are concerned about the oxalic acid content, either eat small amounts or avoid it.

Preferred Method of Preparation:
Use the leaves and freshest part of the stems – the part that is very flexible where the newest growth is.
My favorite way to eat the is to nibble on the leaves when I am out in the woods. There is usually some nearby.
Use it in the same ways as any cultivated green such as spinach or kale. Raw in salads
Quickly stir fried
Added to scrambled eggs
Tossed in soups
Add it to the food processor when making pesto (My pesto looks more like a pate. Whatever the name, it is quick to make, delicious and chock full of nutrition)
It is one of the greens I add to the mineral-rich apple cider vinegar that is used for home made salad dressing

The Plant Profiles are brief materia medica summaries of plants encountered during plant walks or introduced during class on our longer programs. They are presented here to help students organize plant info on an ongoing basis. Although these Profiles are not meant to be comprehensive, they are offered here to the public in the hope that others find these pages useful.


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