There’s a silvery green plant that pops up in most gardens. And it’s just as readily pulled as a weed.
Chenopodium alba goes by many common names such as, pigweed, Lamb’s quarters, goosefoot.
This is one plant where it is helpful to know the botanical name. There are many common names that are not the same botanical species. When foraging and looking for edible weeds one must be careful to ID plant properly. In this case I usually refer to the plant’s botanical name after introducing the plant by its common names.
Today I help out at a community farm that produces food for 10 area soup kitchens. This farm grows and gives 30,000 lbs + per season. In between the neatly sown kale or swish chard, lettuces and beans, is chenopodium alba. Soft velvety and whitish pale green silvery leaves show up on stems. This plant is delicious as a salad green, pot herb (which means it can be cooked in a pot, steamed much like spinach) or frozen. This plant is in the same family as beets and spinach. When cooked, it has a spinach like flavor. Fresh leaves can be blanched and then frozen for later use.
Steve Brill in Edible and Medicinal Plants, recommends steaming them in this way:
- Wash cut plant material.
- Shake off water.
- Fill pot but adding water is not necessary. The water left on leaves is enough to steam them.
- Steam 5-10 minutes.
- Season to taste: olive oil, lemon juice etc.
The underside of the leaves has a whitish dusting though you can feel some of this characteristic on the top side of leaves.
You can harvest the seeds when it goes to seed later in the season. Some folks gather enough to grind into a flour and then add it to muffin, bread recipes. I suggest you start with 1/4 cup to 1 cup organic wheat flour or organic unbromated, non chlorinated white flour for a lighter texture.
However, I observed that aphids like it. Some of this plant popped up next to beans that were also infested. Then we saw lady bugs munching on the aphids. The other gardeners and I decided to leave some of chenopodium alba throughout some of the beds to help with aphids and attract the ladybugs.
This plant is easily spotted. Take a look around your gardens and I bet this is one you pull out. If you should notice it, I suggest you try it in your salad or lightly steam it with other greens for a nutritious treat.
Nutrition data: vitamins, especially Vitamin A, K, and Folate, minerals, especially calcium and magnesium, plus fiber.
Silvery green often disregarded, Lamb’s Quarters or chenopodium alba, is nutritious and delicious.
Judith Dreyer, MS, BSN, Writer, Speaker, Holistic Health Consultant and Workshop Presenter, Master Gardener.