May 19, 2014

Lambsquarters

"A weed is simply a plant that you don't know what to do with."
Author Unknown


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.

Lambsquarter patch

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.

Wild lambsquarters

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 sauteedThe leaves are best eaten before the flowers appear. 

Small lambsquarters plants

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."

Lambsquarters

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:
Plantain
Woolly Mullein
Wild Onions
Echinacea
Yarrow
How to Harvest Yarrow
Pokeweed
Lambsquarters
Curly Dock
Vetch
DIY Herb Field Guide


This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


~~~~~

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20 comments:

  1. Okay, Kathi, I was wondering what this pesky weed was called. You are excited to see it close by, and I pull them by the hundreds out of my garden each year. They do grow over 5 feet tall if left to themselves, and they are quite happy to spread prolifically here, too. Thank you again for the information.

    Fern

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  2. This is the stuff that plagues our garden every year.
    Interesting that is has some use.
    We have an abundance of it!

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  3. Haha! Huzzah! I've been meaning to look this one up, and here you've done the work for me! Noticed this weed coming up in my garden again this year and have been specifically avoiding pulling it in the hopes that it was lamb's quarters. Thank you!!

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  4. Fern, notice I didn't say I was happy to find them in my garden! I'd be pulling them too.

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  5. Sandra, I'm wondering why everyone else has such an abundance but I haven't seen any for a couple of years? Probably a bird brought it in this spring.

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  6. Rose, you are welcome for the ID. :-) Don't shoot me if it takes over your garden though!

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  7. LOL, no worries Kathi. At least it's not Bermuda grass, or wild lettuce (complete with massive spikes all over!).

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  8. Free food is always good! ;0)

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  9. I've never tried eating lambs quarters but I certainly have plenty of it!

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  10. Try adding a couple of leaves to a salad, Nancy. Thank you for stopping by.

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  11. I think I've seen this around our house!! I noticed the girls eating on it, and wanted to find out what it was. I'll have to try this in salads, and I really like the idea of dehydrating some!!

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  12. Mary, free food for humans and livestock alike!

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  13. Well, Heidi, it can be a nuisance too! I'm surprised you don't though, I thought it grew everywhere - just not in the desert, I guess!

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  14. I didn't realize you could eat this. They always call it a weed. Thanks for the information.

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  15. Heidi, so many "weeds" are edible or medicinal, or both - but some are neither, so be careful! Thank you for visiting and commenting. :-)

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  16. Oh! All the lambsquarter I pulled out of my parents' garden when I was little and instructed to weed the garden.
    They were growing food and didn't even know it!

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  17. I know what you mean, Christine!

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  18. Great post! I always called this Fat Hen and feed it to my chickens every time I see it.....I never knew I could eat it too! I'm going to try it.
    Thanks for sharing this at Green Thumb Thursday. We'd love to have you back this week!

    ~L

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  19. Me too, Lisa! My goats love it.

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