Nettle-Leaf Goosefoot: A Nutritious Edible Weed

Updated on May 1, 2019
joanhall profile image

The nettle-leaf goosefoot is plentiful here in Los Angeles, where I live.

Part of the Amaranth Family

This oddly named weed is one of the low-profile members of the amaranth family. The nettle-leaf goosefoot is perhaps less well known 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.

Chenopodium murale, aka nettle-leaf goosefoot.
Chenopodium murale, aka nettle-leaf goosefoot. | Source

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.

Nutritional Information

Chenopodium murale leaves are a source of vitamins A and C, as well as calcium.

Of all the Chenopodiaceae, C. murale has been 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.

Questions & Answers

  • Nettle-leaf Goosefoot grows all over my backyard. Weird thing about the Pima legend though since this plant was introduced and not native to America. What do you think?

    It does seem strange. I hope it doesn't signify that the Pima thought the Europeans were gods themselves!

© 2010 Joan Hall

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    • profile image


      4 months ago

      What's the difference between the two is the stinging nettle be eaten or drink and it's benifits

    • joanhall profile imageAUTHOR

      Joan Hall 

      3 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hi! Here's an example of a source that talks about Chenopodium murale being edible. The book is called PROTA - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa --

      Like other sources it recommends that C. murale is best as a cooked vegetable.

    • profile image

      pattianne pascual 

      4 years ago

      many articles are saying this is a look alike for the edible lamb's quarters,but that the nettle leaf goosefoot is toxic?

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Hi Joan. Thank you for this article! I have a book on wild edible plants and it says that nettle leaved goosefoot is considered toxic, and I also found some articles online.

      I happen to have it in my garden and I feel quite attracted to it but I would not want to take any risk. Where did you get the information that it can be eaten? And have you tried to eat it yourself with success?

      Thank you for your time and answer :)


    • profile image


      7 years ago

      You mentioned you couldn't find any recipes for the Goosefoot plant. If you've every been to an Indian restaurant and eaten Chicken 'saag' or any other variation of 'saag', it contains a mix of mustard leaves, spinach and Goosefoot. It is widely used in India as a green leaf vegetable.

    • joanhall profile imageAUTHOR

      Joan Hall 

      9 years ago from Los Angeles

      @PromptWriter: The nettle tea they're referring to is probably Stinging Nettle, which I also have a lens about, but the nettle-leaf goosefoot is a different plant.

    • PromptWriter profile image

      Moe Wood 

      9 years ago from Eastern Ontario

      I've read that nettle tea is supposed to be good for PMS but I've never been able to find it. I guess I need to make my own.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I have probably passed by this many times without noticing it much but I just don't recall seeing it. That is so interesting that the seeds can be ground to make flour.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      10 years ago from Central Florida

      Wonderfully illustrated. I'll recognize this if I saw it now.

    • pkmcruk profile image


      10 years ago from Cheshire UK

      Very informative and interesting - don't you love Squidoo for the amazing learning that you can experience. Thank you!

    • joanhall profile imageAUTHOR

      Joan Hall 

      10 years ago from Los Angeles

      @WhiteOak50: Yes, this is a different plant from stinging nettle. The leaves have a somewhat similar look, but the stinging nettle leaves are more perfectly symmetrical and the goosefoot leaves are heavier.

      I also have a stinging nettle lens:

    • WhiteOak50 profile image


      10 years ago

      Is there a difference between this and stinging nettle? Nettle is one of my favorite herbs and Oh, so good for you!! Nice lens.

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 

      10 years ago from USA

      I learned a lot here!

    • Gamganny profile image


      10 years ago

      Interesting. It's amazing how many things are edible that we don't know about.


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