Chenopodium album opulifolium (W.D.J.Koch & Ziz) Batt.
Chenopodium mucronatum subintegrum Aellen
Chenopodium opulifolium is an erect annual or short-lived perennial herb, the branches spreading, often woody below, 60 - 150cm tall[
The plant is sometimes harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine.
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[
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[
Central and southern Europe; northern and eastern Africa; Arabian Peninsula to western and central Asia
A not infrequent alien in waste places, mainly in S. England[
]. A weed of cultivation, roadsides, waste places; at elevations from 760 - 2,300 metres[
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An annual plant found in a range of habitats from the temperate zone to the tropics.
An easily grown plant, succeeding in most soils but disliking shade[
]. It prefers a moderately fertile soil[
Leaves - raw or cooked as a spinach[
]. The leaves are cooked in a mixture with other vegetables such as cowpeas, Bidens, or Cleome and eaten with ugali, rice or potatoes[
]. The raw leaves should only be eaten in small quantities, see the notes above on toxicity.
Seed - cooked. Ground into a powder and mixed with wheat or other cereals and used in making bread etc. The seed is small and fiddly, it should be soaked in water overnight and thoroughly rinsed before it is used in order to remove any saponins.
The roots are boiled and the decoction drunk as an emetic[
The leaves are used in a steam bath to treat fever and colds[
Gold/green dyes can be obtained from the whole plant[
Seed - sow spring in situ. Most of the seed usually germinates within a few days of sowing.
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