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Bassia scoparia - (L.)A.J.Scott.

Common Name Summer Cypress, Burningbush
Family Chenopodiaceae
USDA hardiness 5-9
Known Hazards Plants contain some saponins and should not be eaten in large quantities. Saponins are a toxin found in many of our daily foods such as many beans. They are usually present in quantities too small to be concerned about and are also very poorly absorbed by the body, tending to pass straight through without causing any problems. Saponins are much more toxic to some 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[K].
Habitats Roadsides, ditches and wasteland in western N. America[60].
Range Europe to Western N. America.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (1 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Bassia scoparia Summer Cypress, Burningbush

(c) Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University, United State
Bassia scoparia Summer Cypress, Burningbush


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Bassia scoparia is a ANNUAL growing to 0.3 m (1ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in September, and the seeds ripen in October. The flowers are pollinated by Wind.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Chenopodium scoparia. Kochia scoparia. (L.)Schrad. K. trichophila.


 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Seed
Edible Uses:

Young leaves - cooked[105, 177]. A delicious taste, they are used as a vegetable[179]. A nutritional analysis is available[218]. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Seed - dried and ground into a powder then mixed with cereals when making bread, biscuits etc[61, 105, 177]. Very small and fiddly to use, it is also not a very reliable crop in Britain due to its late season of flowering[K]. On a zero moisture basis, the seed contains 20.4 - 27.5% protein, 8.8 - 16% fat and 3.4 - 9.4% ash[218]. In Japan the seeds are used a food garnish called tonburi.


Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Leaves (Dry weight)
  • 0 Calories per 100g
  • Water : 0%
  • Protein: 21.5g; Fat: 2.4g; Carbohydrate: 56.8g; Fibre: 19.7g; Ash: 19.2g;
  • Minerals - Calcium: 0mg; Phosphorus: 0mg; Iron: 0mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 0mg; Zinc: 0mg;
  • Vitamins - A: 0mg; Thiamine (B1): 0mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0mg; Niacin: 0mg; B6: 0mg; C: 0mg;
  • Reference: [ 218]
  • Notes:

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antibacterial  Antifungal  Antiphlogistic  Astringent  Cardiotonic  Diuretic  Skin

Antibacterial, antifungal[178]. The leaves and fruits are cardiotonic and diuretic[218, 240]. The stems are used in the treatment of dysentery, diarrhoea and dyspepsia[218]. The seed is antiphlogistic, astringent and diuretic[176, 218]. It is used to treat skin infections such as eczema ad scabies, and diseases of the urinary tract[176, 218, 279]. The seed contains harmine, which can have adverse effects upon the gastro-intestinal tract and the central nervous system[279].


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Other Uses


The whole plant is used as a broom[61, 151]. The green form is used[1]. An ornamental for its red fall foliage. It has also been useful in erosion control on denuded soils. It has been suggested as an agent of phytoremediation, because it is a hyperaccumulator of chromium, lead, mercury, selenium, silver, zinc, and uranium. Bassia scoparia contains higher levels of protein and oxalate than most grasses and fodder plants, thus it also serves as a good forage crop for livestock. When grown as ornamental plant, it is a good choice as evergreen foliage plant for landscapes.

Special Uses


Cultivation details

An easily grown plant[200], it succeeds in ordinary garden soil[1]. Succeeds in any reasonably fertile light well-drained but moisture retentive soil in a sunny position[200]. A frost tender plant, it is grown as a spring-sown annual in Britain[1]. This species is cultivated in Korea for its use as a broom[151]. The subspecies B. scoparia trichophylla. (Schmeiss.)Schinz.&Thell. is the form most often found in cultivation in Britain[200].


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Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse and plant out in May. The seed can also be sown in situ in late April or early May.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Burningbush, ragweed, summer cypress, mock-cypress, kochia, belvedere, Mexican firebrush, and Mexican fireweed. Because its texture is similar to caviar, it has been called "land caviar", "field caviar", and "mountain caviar" in Japan.

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

This plant is listed by the U.S. federal government or a state as a noxious weed. Connecticut (Kochia scoparia, common kochia): Potentially invasive, banned. Oregon (kochia): "B" designated weed. Quarantine. Washington (kochia, kochia, summer-cyprus, burning-bush, fireball, Mexican fireweed): Class B noxious weed Noxious weed seed and plant quarantine

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed.

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


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Readers comment

Majid Jami Al-Ahmadi   Sat Jan 18 07:33:38 2003

I am a Ph-D student of crop physiology. i want to work about domestication of kochia scoparia as a foliage crop for saline soils of iran. I`m searching information about this plant from an agronomical prospective, but the little information is available in this field. I would appreciated anyone who can help me and send me some information about this crop. we can establish a mutual relation.

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