Friday’s Flora and Fauna: Eat Your Weedies!!

I’m talking about Chenopodium album, of course…or more commonly known as Lambs’ Quarters. This stuff pokes up all over the place, being almost as common as the dandelion (Taraxacum officinale). And just as nutritious:

(Values based upon a 2000 calorie diet)

Potassium………..12%
Vitamin A……….232%
Calcium………….30%
Vitamin C……….133%
Iron……………..6%
Vitamin B6……….15%
Magnesium…………8%*

As I tend to let the yard overgrow, I always have a number of these “weeds” growing wild. I often pick the leaves while weeding the garden beds and eat them straight off the plant (as always, before doing so, please be sure that no pesticides or herbicides have been used in the area). They have a mild taste, similar to spinach, kale or Swiss chard and they make a nice addition to any salad. The leaves do contain oxalic acid so raw consumption should be done in moderation. However, all of the aerial parts (leaves, stems, flowers) may be steamed; thus, removing the risk of the oxalic acid. A little pat of butter, a light sprinkling of salt and/or pepper–or perhaps a pinch of garlic powder/salt and you’ve got a nice little pot-herb to serve beside any main dish. A Google search for recipes will provide some delicious dishes as well.

Of course, you will want to be certain of positive identification.

lambs-quarters2

Lambs’ Quarters has grey-green leaves that closely resemble a goose foot. From a distance, they appear dusty and the plant may grow many feet tall. The flowers grow in spiky clusters of what looks like small balls of pale green (de Bairacli Levy 95-96). And, while the young plants tend to be full and lush-looking, as they mature they become more ‘leggy’. A good field guide will provide more of the particulars; I am including some photos to aid in identification.

lambs-quarters

Lambs’ Quarters gets its name from being a good fodder for sheep but other livestock enjoy it as well, including goats, chickens and geese. I often cut back some of its growth and toss it over the fence. My goats, chickens and ducks go wild over it; they know its many health benefits. Lambs’ Quarters may be used as a “pasture tonic herb” and may improve digestion as well as provide an anemia remedy (de Bairacli Levy 95-96).

As it is good for us, and for the animals, it is also good for your soil and a homesteader/gardener’s friend. Lambs’ Quarters tends to spread rather quickly wherever the soil has been contaminated by car fumes, pesticides, etc. It restores much-needed nutrients. Though we often lament its invasiveness, Lambs’ Quarters in the garden is a sign of a healthy garden bed, of soil rich in vitamins and minerals. It tends to grow wherever Gaia decides it is most needed but I’ve actually been considering creating a bed just for Lambs’ Quarters as, knowing its virtues, I can appreciate it better. I’m hoping everyone will decide to find a spot for it in their garden, too.

May God bless you & keep you!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The information shared is intended for educational purposes only; it is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Works Cited

de Bairacli Levy, J. The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable, 4th Edition. Faber and Faber, New York: 1991.

Wild Edible Food. Lambs’ Quarters. 16 September 2016. Retrieved from: http://www.ediblewildfood.com/lambs-quarters.aspx

Photos retrieved from: http://www.google.com

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