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Chenopodium spp - Various

Common Name Perennial quinoa
Family Amaranthaceae
USDA hardiness 4-10
Known Hazards 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 toxic, saponins are poorly absorbed by the body and most pass straight through without any problem. They are also broken down to a large extent in the cooking process. Saponins are found in many foods, such as some beans. 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]. 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[238].
Habitats Varied depending on species.
Range 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 including Africa, Australasia, North America, Europe, and Oceania, (even, apparently in Antarctica).
Edibility Rating    (5 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Chenopodium spp Perennial quinoa


Chenopodium spp Perennial quinoa

 

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Summary

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. Perennial species (quinoa) are worth considering as carbon farming plants in cold temperate to subtropical, and tropical highlands. Quinoa has been a popular food for people of the higher Andes, who called it the "mother grain" or "mother of all grains,". It is ground into flour, boiled like rice, used in soup, and in many preparations suitable for rice. It also is used for livestock feed and made into an alcoholic beverage. Leaves are eaten as a leaf vegetable, much like amaranth. It has a high-protein content, including all of the essential amino acids, and has higher unsaturated fats than most grains and is lower in carbohydrates. It provides a balanced source of many nutrients, including a rich source of iron and vitamin B1.


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Chenopodium spp is a PERENNIAL growing to 2 m (6ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid, very alkaline and saline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Many. See individual species.

Habitats

Edible Uses

Edible portion: Leaves, Seeds, Vegetable. Seed - cooked[ 1 , 2 , 4 , 27 , 57 , 97 ]. A pleasant mild flavour, the seed can absorb the flavour of other foods that are cooked with it and so it can be used in a wide variety of ways[ K ]. The protein is good quality because of its amino acid balance. It has 2-6% more protein and better amino acid balance than wheat. It should be thoroughly soaked and rinsed to remove a coating of saponins on the seed surface. The seed can be used in all the ways that rice is used, as a savoury or sweet dish. It can also be ground into a powder and used as a porridge[ 37 , 183 ]. The seed can also be sprouted and used in salads[ 183 ] though many people find the sprouted seed unpleasant[ K ]. The seed contains a very high quality protein that is rich in the amino acids lysine, methionine and cystine, it has the same biological value as milk[ 196 ]. The seed contains about 38% carbohydrate, 19% protein, 5% fat, 5% sugar[ 171 ]. Leaves - raw or cooked[ 2 , 4 , 37 , 57 ]. The young leaves are cooked like spinach[ 183 ]. It is best not to eat large quantities of the raw leaves, see the notes above on toxicity.

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.


Some medical properties. See individual plants for example: Chenopodium album, Chenopodium ambrosioides, Chenopodium ambrosioides anthelminticum

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Other Uses

Gold/green dyes can be obtained from the whole plant[ 168 ]. Saponins on the seed can be used as a bird and insect deterrent by spraying them on growing plants[ 141 ]. The saponins are obtained by saving the soak-water used when preparing the seed for eating. The spray remains effective for a few weeks or until washed off by rain[ K ].

Cultivation details

Climate: cold temperate to subtropical, tropical highlands. Humidity: humid. A cultivated food crop. A plant of higher elevations in the tropics, it has also been successfully grown in the temperate and subtropical zones. Plants tolerate light frosts at any stage in their development except when flowering[ 57 , 196 ]. An easily grown plant, it requires a rich moist well-drained soil and a warm position if it is to do really well, but it also succeeds in less than optimum conditions[ 27 , 37 ]. Tolerates a pH range from 6 to 8.5 and moderate soil salinity[ 196 ]. Plants are quite wind resistant[ K ]. Plants are drought tolerant once they are established[ 196 ]. The plant is day-length sensitive and many varieties fail to flower properly away from equatorial regions, however those varieties coming from the south of its range in Chile are more likely to do well in Britain[ 196 ]. Different cultivars take from 90 - 220 days from seed sowing to harvest[ 196 ]. Yields as high as 5 tonnes per hectare have been recorded in the Andes, which compares favourably with wheat in that area[ 196 ]. Young plants look remarkably like the common garden weed fat hen (Chenopodium album). Be careful not to weed the seedlings out in error[ K ]. The seed is not attacked by birds because it has a coating of bitter tasting saponins[ 141 , K ]. These saponins are very easily removed by soaking the seed overnight and then thoroughly rinsing it until there is no sign of any soapiness in the water. The seed itself is very easy to harvest by hand on a small scale and is usually ripe in August. Cut down the plants when the first ripe seeds are falling easily from the flower head, lay out the stems on a sheet in a warm dry position for a few days and then simply beat the stems against a wall or some other surface, the seed will fall out easily if it is fully ripe and then merely requires winnowing to get rid of the chaff.Carbon Farming Solutions - Cultivation: hypothetical. Management: standard (Describes the non-destructive management systems that are used in cultivation) [1-1].

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Propagation

Seed - sow April in situ. The seed can either be sown broadcast or in rows about 25cm apart, thinning the plants to about every 10cm. Germination is rapid, even in fairly dry conditions. Be careful not to weed out the seedlings because they look very similar to some common garden weeds[ K ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Chenopodium species. Quinoa species

Found In

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

Chenopodium species of perennial occur almost anywhere in the world.

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.

None Known

Conservation Status

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

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Chenopodium acuminatum 20
Chenopodium albumFat Hen, Lambsquarters32
Chenopodium ambrosioidesMexican Tea23
Chenopodium ambrosioides anthelminticumWormseed23
Chenopodium auricomumQueensland Bluebush20
Chenopodium berlandieriSouthern Huauzontle, Pitseed goosefoot, Nuttall's goosefoot, Bush's goosefoot, Zschack's goosefoot20
Chenopodium bonus-henricusGood King Henry42
Chenopodium botrysJerusalem Oak, Jerusalem oak goosefoot22
Chenopodium bushianumBush's goosefoot20
Chenopodium californicumCalifornia Goosefoot21
Chenopodium canihua 20
Chenopodium capitatumStrawberry Blite, Blite goosefoot31
Chenopodium cristatumCrested Goosefoot21
Chenopodium ficifoliumFig-Leaved Goosefoot20
Chenopodium foliosumLeafy goosefoot30
Chenopodium fremontiiGoosefoot, Fremont's goosefoot, Pringle's goosefoot20
Chenopodium giganteumTree Spinach30
Chenopodium glaucumOak-Leaved Goosefoot20
Chenopodium graveolensFoetid Goosefoot21
Chenopodium hybridum 21
Chenopodium incanumMealy Goosefoot20
Chenopodium leptophyllumNarrow Leaved Goosefoot20
Chenopodium muraleNettleleaf Goosefoot20
Chenopodium nuttalliaeHuauzontle, Nuttall's goosefoot40
Chenopodium opulifoliumSeaport goosefoot20
Chenopodium overiOver's goosefoot20
Chenopodium pallidicauleCañihua30
Chenopodium polyspermumAll-Seed, Manyseed goosefoot20
Chenopodium pratericolaDesert Goosefoot20
Chenopodium quinoaQuinoa, Goosefoot, Pigweed, Inca Wheat50
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