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Lamb's quarters is an annual wild edible that is a member of the Amaranthaceae family (in the genus Chenopodium). It was once thought that it was native to Europe. However, recent archaeological studies show that the seeds were stored and used by the American Blackfoot Indians during the sixteenth century. Lamb's quarters is a purifying plant that helps to restore healthy nutrients to poor quality soil. This unique, edible plant tends to spread quickly no matter the soil condition. One plant can produce up to 75,000 seeds!
This annual plant looks dusty from a distance due to a white coating on the leaves. When moist, water simply beads and runs off. It produces tiny green flowers that form in clusters on top of spikes, and the leaves resemble the shape of a goosefoot.
Lamb's quarters flowers are very small, greenish, densely grouped together into small, thick, granular clusters along the main stem and upper branches. They have five green sepals but no petals. They produce small seedsrounded in outline, somewhat flattened, 1mm to 1.5mm (1/25-1/16") in diametre. Flowering occurs from June to August.
Leaves are light green on the top and whitish underneath, with some teeth along edges. They are goosefoot-shaped or somewhat diamond-shaped, and can grow up to 10 cm long.
Although rare, this plant can reach a height of up to 2 metres. The average height, though, is about 1 metre.
Lamb’s quarter thrives as a common weed in gardens, near streams, rivers, forest clearings, fields, waste places, and disturbed soils. It is very hardy and grows in many areas throughout Canada and the U.S. It is also found in South America, Central America, many countries throughout Africa, the Middle East, Europe, several Asian countries (very common in India), Australia and New Zealand.
Leaves, shoots, seeds, flowers. Saponins in the seeds are potentially toxic and should not be consumed in excess. Lamb’s quarters contain some oxalic acid therefore when eating this raw, small quantities are recommended. Cooking removes this acid. Lamb’s quarter can be eaten in salads or added to smoothies and juices. Steaming this edible weed is one method of cooking, or can be added to soups, sautés and much more. Drying this wild edible is one way to add this nutritious plant to your meals throughout the winter or you can blanch and freeze the leaves.
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EdibleWildFood.com is informational in nature. While we strive to be 100% accurate, it is solely up to the reader to ensure proper plant identification. Some wild plants are poisonous or can have serious adverse health effects.
We are not health professionals, medical doctors, nor are we nutritionists. It is up to the reader to verify nutritional information and health benefits with qualified professionals for all edible plants listed in this web site. Please click here for more information.