Chenopodium album – Lamb’s Quarters
Lamb’s Quarters – Chenopodium album
Chenopodium = kay-no-po-dee-um, from Greek chen (goose) and podion (foot) referring to the shape of the leaves;
album = L. “dead-white”;
Identification: Lamb’s quarters is a stout many-branched annual 30-100 cm high, varying in appearance. The dense compound flower clusters are more or less white with a bluish tinge. The leaves are green above and densely mealy beneath. The leaf shape varies from ovate, rhombic to lanceolate, with the larger leaves being irregularly-toothed. The branches often turn reddish late in the season. The dense seeds are black.
Distribution & Habitat: This introduced weed is found in gardens, along roadsides and on waste areas.
Preparation & Uses: Lamb’s quarters gets its name from its mealy leaves (and its love of manure). In England, Lamb’s quarters was called midden myles, and there was a saying “Boil myles in water and chop them into butter and you will have a good dish”. Lamb’s quarters is also called pigweed. The herb is good eaten as a salad or as a pot herb, prepared like spinach. This plant contains large amounts of beta-carotene and vitamin C. It also contains quite high levels of oxalic acid so large quantities should not be eaten. If first ground into a meal, the seeds are quite good in bread. The meal or flour resembles buckwheat in colour and taste and is considered equally nutritious. The seeds are also good eaten raw. With 70,000 seeds per plant collecting them is not that hard!
Lamb’s quarters is good for relieving heat from too much sun, or for a headache. Just bruise the leaves and apply this as a poultice to the forehead. The leaves have been used this way, applied to wounds and eye inflammations. It was also used as a folk remedy for vertigo.
The entire plant can be boiled and used as a crude green dye.