Saturday, May 10, 2014
LAMBS QUARTER-Chenopodium Album
Also known as: fat hen, pigweed, mealweed, goosefoot, bacon-weed, wild spinach, epazote
Parts used: leaves, bud clusters, seeds
Meridians/Organs affected: structural, blood, circulatory, digestive
Properties: antiscorbutic, anti-inflammatory, nutritive, blood purifying, anti-parasitic
Lamb's Quarter belongs to the Goosefoot family along with beets, quinoa, spinach and Swiss chard. It is an annual with pale green leaves that are alternate and look like they were dusted with powdered sugar. Lamb's Quarter has erect, branched stems and pale gray-green flowers that are borne on spikes from July to September. The seeds are shiny and black and have been used similar to amaranth or quinoa. It is a native of Euro-Asia but can be found throughout the usa now, especially in waste places, cultivated fields, gardens, public parks, vacant lots, cracks in pavement, median strips, rock outcroppings, etc. It can get up to seven feet tall and is extremely intolerant to frost and/or drought, making it an exceptional plant for survival. One plant can have up to 75,000 seeds which can remain in the soil dormant for centuries.
There are at least 60 varieties of Lamb's Quarter throughout the globe. Seed stores have been found in many European Neolithic ruins and were believed to be a ritual food for the Tollund man (The Tollund Man is the naturally mummified corpse of a man who lived during the 4th century BC, during the period characterised in Scandinavia as the Pre-Roman Iron Age) 2,000 years ago in Denmark. The Blackfoot indians have used the seeds since 1500 AD and the seeds are still a part of the Pueblo and Navajo indians culture and meals. In Europe during times of famine the seeds were boiled to make gruel or baked into bread; it is rumored that Napolean's troops lived off this for a time. Many Native American tribes have used the leaves to prevent scurvy and for stomachaches. The seeds were used at times to expel roundworms and a poultice of the leaves has been used for burns, swellings, inflamed eyes and wounds; the leaves have been bruised and applied to those suffering from heat stroke, headaches, and dizziness. The leaves were also chewed to relieve toothaches. Leaf tea was used for arthritis, rheumatism and stomach pain. The crushed taproots have been used as a mild soap substitute.
Lamb's Quarter is a wonderfully nutritive plant. It is high in calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin A, vitamin C and some B vitamins, particularly folic acid (B9) and riboflavin (B2). It is called wild spinach and the young leaves and stems have been used similarly to spinach in every way. Lamb's Quarter is high in oxalates so regular ingestion is not recommended unless one has a highly varied diet. Try using it on sandwiches, in soups and sauces, or as a or sauteed vegetable. Both delicious and nutritious!
As is customary with my posts I have included some interesting links below for your benefit. Use them as you deem necessary! Live long and be happy!