Goosefoot, Fat Hen (Chenopodium album)

Goosefoot (Fat Hen) is super nutritious and easy to grow

We ignore this plant of many names – Goosefoot, or Fat Hen or Lamb’s Quarters (Chenopodium album) – as we walk along, yet it contains more goodies than its close relative, Spinach (Spinacia oleracea). It’s usually an annual, but what with the new weather and all. I’ve been seeing plants lasting all year. It is one of the enormous Amaranth family that I’ve already covered in this series and shares some characteristic features.

In summer, 2016, I dug up a ‘weed’ from the footpath and planted it in the middle of one of our garden beds. Around it I planted more traditional vegetables and herbs, then neglected the bed, giving only a sprinkling on the hottest days.

The Goosefoot thrived while the only the Parsley survived to keep it company.

Says a lot, doesn’t it? I’ll be growing this instead of Spinach from now on.

IMG_20180209_180109-01.jpegGoosefoot leavesGoosefoot can be easily identified by the characteristic shape of its leaves, which have a shape similar to that of a goose’s foot or the print it leaves behind in the mud. The second identifying feature is the white, powdery coating that covers the leaves. This gives rise to its species name, album.

As you can see in the pic above also, the leaves are a whiter shade on the underside. That will help you identify Goosefoot too.

IMG_20180209_180029.jpgAn angled, striped stem.Another feature that it has in common with many others in the Amaranth family is a striped, angular stem The amount of striping and angularity can vary enormously between specimens.

As with other Amaranths too, Goodefoot produces quite a lot of edible seeds that can be cooked along with the leaves.

Just one note. Goosefoot suffers from ‘shrinkage’. You might think that you’ve picked enough for a complete meal, only to find that when it’s cooked, its only a couple if mouthfuls!

Here’s a conservative breakdown of what’s in the leaves of Goosefoot for those of you of a more scientific bent….