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Fields, Forests & Wetlands Foods of Eastern North America

A Complete Wild Food Guide

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Season: Spring & Early Summer

Urban, Rural or Both: Both

For the edible Grain of Lamb's Quarters, see the Lamb's Quarters Grain page.

Lamb's Quarters (Chenopodium album) also called Goose Foot due to the shape of the leaves, is a close relative of spinach. Lamb's Quarters is a traditional food all around the world, and is grown as a crop food in parts of India, just as we grow spinach in the west. Use the leaves just like you would use spinach leaves.

It is also a close relative of the Quinoa, the plant that is grown for the Quinoa grain found in health food and now grocery stores.

The greens are much better on younger plants and there are two very easy ways to tell if a plant is young or mature. On young plants, all the leaves are Rhomboid (diamond) shaped with coarse sawtooth edges or margins. On older plants the upper leaves are smooth edged (Entire) and the leaves are Lanceolate to Elliptical shaped (long, narrow & coming to a point at both ends - not a sharp pointed tip in this case).

The other indicator of how mature the plant is: On young plants the stem is green while on older plants the stem is a pinkish-mauve color. See the pictures below, as this is very clear.

Growing this plant in your home garden:

Find plant in the fall with mature seed, spread over the ground where you want them, tamp and mulch very lightly, and leave. Next spring they should show up. This plant is far easier to grow than normal spinach, and when used in meals tastes the same. I've given up on growing spinach and grow this now.

For detailed growing instructions, go to my Wild Foods Home Garden website Lamb's Quarters page.


Chenopodium album range

Lamb's Quarters (Chenopodium album) range. Distribution map courtesy of U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA Natural Resources Service) and used in accordance with their policies.

Lambsquarters from above sm

Lamb's Quarters looking straight down on it. This one is perfect for eating the top 9 or so leaves. This is a young plant with leaves that are choice for salads or cooking. Take note of the leaf shape, the plant's other name is Goose Foot.

Lambsquarters 01 sm

Lamb's Quarters can take many shapes and sizes. The one above is an older plant. Notice how the leaves lose their “Goose Foot” shape, and become smooth edged (Entire) and Lanceolate and Elliptical shaped . Note the color of the stem.

Lambsquarters 03 sm

A very young Lamb's Quarters that grew in the open, and is low and wide. This one is choice for eating raw or cooking. Note the stem is green - an indication it is young.

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Important Notes when Identifying
Rules & Cautions
Dangerous Plants to Avoid Touching

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