"A weed is simply a plant that you don't know what to do with."
A few years ago I was thrilled to find a large lambsquarters plant right on the edge of the barnyard; I didn't even have to tromp through the woods or the pasture or hayfield to find it! I was excited... and then our steer Chuck found it too, and he promptly ate it to the ground. The lambsquarters didn't come back the next year, to my disappointment.
But this spring, for some reason, I am finding young lambsquarters in abundance near the chicken coop. Lots of them. And this year we don't have a steer. I can't wait until the little plants are big enough so that I can harvest some leaves, but I also want to let a few plants grow to maturity so they will go to seed.
Lambsquarters, Chenopodium album, also called pigweed, fat hen, goosefoot, and wild spinach, is often considered an obnoxious weed, growing at least 3-5 feet tall. And yet it's free food, like dandelions and other wild greens. The young leaves of lambsquarters can be added to salads or cooked in soups, steamed, stir-fried, or sauteed. The leaves are best eaten before the flowers appear.
Susun Weed writes this about lambsquarters:
"Lamb's quarter seeds are totally safe to eat, but there are two cautions to keep in mind when eating lamb's quarter leaves. All edible plants in this family -- including spinach and chard -- concentrate oxalic acid in the leaves. And oxalic acid can interfere with calcium utilization unless eating with a good source of calcium, such as cheese or yogurt, at the same meal. The roots of lamb's quarter search out and concentrate nitrogen (protein), plants growing in fields that have been heavily fertilized (with chemical fertilizers) can contain large amount of nitrites and nitrates. Fertilized plants have harmed livestock and, theoretically, could harm us."
I'm anxious to add the leaves to our spring salads. I'm also planning to dehydrate the leaves, as well as dandelion greens, spinach leaves, and other greens so that I can powder them and add to other dishes. Lambsquarters are an excellent source of protein, vitamin A, and B vitamins, especially riboflavin and folic acid.
I've read that some people get a tingly tongue from the silvery powder on the underside of the leaves, so we are warned to be careful until we are sure we aren't affected.
Disclaimer: Remember, before using this or any herb or plant, please research it fully.
You are responsible for your own health.
Other posts in this series:
How to Harvest Yarrow
DIY Herb Field Guide
My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a