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Sunday, 12 July 2015

Fat-Hen, Chenopodium album

The Goosefoot family of plants are relatively hard to identify, particularly as there are a huge number of subspecies and some of them can hybridise freely further confusing things and that makes identification a microscope affair rather than just simply a visual affair.
However this one below is Fat- Hen ( I've crossed referenced this a lot and sought secondary identification on this one too!)
It's got that mealy appearance that fat-hen gets as it gets older, the leaves are that sort of grey/blue green and heavily toothed
It's got those rather easily identifiable flowers just before it goes to seed and this is one way I use this to ID it as the spikes of flowers are different that those on orache, a similar and easily misidentified plant with this one.
The leaves are like a gooses foot (hence the name of this genus) and are a different shape than those of Good King Henry which is another plant it can be confused with..
Tollund man was found to have eaten Fat-hen shortly before he died.
It provides a very nutritious food, very cabbagey in taste but pleasant, it does contain high amounts of oxalic acid but this is broken down with prolonged cooking, and it gives a pleasant meal similar to other beets or chards and it can also be eaten raw in salads.
It's also commonly called Lambs Quarters and a host of other local names.
Although supposedly common all over I don't find it very often here in Northern Ireland.


  1. We've had a supermarket open near me and they grassed over some areas outside the shop. The formerly disturbed ground soon became beds of Fat Hen, much to my amusement.

  2. Lol, natures own supermarket! Take advantage of it.