Lambs Quarters: Chenopodium album

lambs quarters

The picture is of me holding a sprig of Lambs Quarters (aka Chenopodium album in Latin) in Central Park. It grows wild there. If you can find or buy some Lambs Quarter — please do! It is by far one of the healthiest things you can eat! It’s one of the best sources of beta-carotene, calcium, potassium, and iron in the world; also a great source of trace minerals, B-complex vitamins and vitamin C.

I love to eat it just as it is. You pick off a few leaves and chew ’em up. It takes a little like spinach, but better. Much more tasty. It can be chopped in a salad or blended in a smoothie, I imagine it would make a great saute as well. The information and wild greens saute recipe below is from WildEdibles, and the small photo to the right is from AHandMadeLife.

Sesame & Wilted Green Saute Recipe

lambs quarter2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 tbsp. sesame oil
2 litres (8 cups) wild greens (possibilities: plantain, dandelion, lamb’s quarters, mustard)
1 tbsp. tamari or soy sauce
2 tbsp. orange juice
2 tbsp. toasted almonds
toasted sesame seeds for garnish

In a heated skillet, sauté your choice of wild greens for two minutes with sesame oil. Add tamari (or soy sauce), orange juice and toasted almonds. Blend well.

Remove from heat. Sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top as a garnish and serve.

Lamb’s Quarters is an annual wild edible that from a distance, tends to always looks dusty; this is because there is a white powdery coating on the leaves. Lambs Quarters is a purifying plant and helps to restore healthy nutrients to the soil if need be. However, if there is a large patch of lamb’s quarters, be sure that the soil is relatively good and not contaminated. This unique plant tends to spread quickly in areas in which soil is contaminated in order to restore nutrients. This wild edible has an earthy, mineral rich taste; some say is close to chard. It’s difficult to describe, but if you enjoy leafy greens such as kale, collards, and spinach then chances are you will like lambs quarter. One lamb’s quarter plant can produce up to 75,000 seeds.

Distinguishing Features: Annual plant that looks dusty from a distance due to a white coating on the leaves, and when moist, water simply beads and runs off. It produces tiny green flowers that form in clusters on top of spikes, and the leaves resemble the shape of a goosefoot.

Leaves: Leaves are light green on the top and whitish underneath, some teeth along edges, are goosefoot-shaped or somewhat diamond-shaped and can grow up to 10 cm long.

Height: Although rare, this plant can reach a height of up to 2 metres. Average height is about 1 metre.

Habitat: Lamb’s quarter thrives as a common weed in gardens, near streams, rivers, forest clearings, waste places and pretty much anywhere. It is very hardy and grows in many areas throughout Canada and the U.S.

Edible parts: Leaves, shoots, seeds, flowers. Saponins in the seeds are potentially toxic and should not be consumed in excess. Lamb’s quarters contain some oxalic acid therefore when eating this raw, small quantities are recommended. Cooking removes this acid. Lamb’s quarter can be eaten in salads or added to smoothies and juices. Steaming this edible weed is one method of cooking, or can be added to soups, sautés and much more. Drying this wild edible is one way to add this nutritious plant to your meals throughout the winter or you can blanch and freeze the leaves.

Similar plants: Pigweed, Goosefoot.

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