Nettle-Leaf Goosefoot - A Nutritious Edible Weed
This oddly named weed is one of the low-profile members of the Amaranth family, the Chenopodiaceae. It is less talked about than other members of its genus, but it is plentiful here in Los Angeles. Frequently seen in yards and on roadsides, it stands ready to serve in your stewpot.
Getting Acquainted With Nettle-Leaf Goosefoot
- Its binomial name is Chenopodium murale. The word "chenopodium" comes from Greek and means goose and foot, referring to the shape of the leaves.
- The word "murale" means wall in Latin, but I'm not sure how that meaning relates to this plant. From my observation, it doesn't have any preference for growing near walls.
- Nettle-leaf goosefoot is native to Europe and parts of Asia and Northern Africa. It was introduced to the Americas by settlers.
What to Look for
- The plants in the goosefoot family get their name from the fact that their leaves resemble the shape of a goose's foot. The sturdy leaves are roughly (but not completely) symmetrical, with upturned points all along the edges. When you touch them, they have slightly moist feel.
- The stem is very erect and is either reddish or green with red stripes.
- The flowers are little round balls that come in clusters. The flowers have a strong odor when crushed.
There aren't any videos around that are specific to Chenopodium murale. But there are a few Chenopodium album (aka "lamb's quarter") videos that talk about some of the nutritional qualities that both plants share.
Chenopodium murale leaves are a source of vitamins A and C and calcium.
Of all the Chenopodiaceae, C. murale was found to have the highest levels of oxalic acid, which leads some to recommend that it be eaten in moderation (similar to spinach). Cooking it reduces the oxalic acid levels.
Eating Nettle-Leaf Goosefoot
- Both the leaves and the seeds are edible.
- Sources generally agree that the leaves are best eaten cooked. It is recommended that the raw leaves be eaten in small quantities only.
- I couldn't find any specific recipes, but the leaves can be boiled and added to a variety of dishes.
- The seeds should be soaked before cooking to remove saponins. The seeds can be ground up and used as a flour.
Nettle-Leaf Goosefoot in Folklore
Pima Indian legends talk about nettle-leaf goosefoot being one of the first plants the gods made for the use of humankind.
This is a part of my series of articles on edible weeds in Los Angeles. To read more about tasty urban "weeds," see the related articles listed below.
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© 2010 Joan Hall