Goosefoot (Chenopodium berlandieri) is related to quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa– domesticated in South American) and resembles lambsquarter (Chenopodium album, a more commonly found relative) in appearance. A key in identifying Chenopodium berlandieri, particularly in the archeological record, is the distinctive pitted appearance of the seeds, hence its other moniker “pitseed goosefoot”.
The seeds are very small, only between 1 and 1.5 millimeters in diameter, so it may seem surprising that these starchy seeds were an important dietary component for Indigenous people living in eastern North America. Researchers have found that the energy provided by these small seeds is comparable to modern staple foods like corn and rice (Gremilion 2004).
About 5,000 years ago, people began intentionally planting goosefoot, although wild goosefoot had been gathered for food long before. Chenopodium berlandieri was domesticated by people living in the Eastern Woodlands almost 2,000 years ago. The domesticated goosefoot, Cheonopodium berlandieri ssp. jonesianum is differentiated from the undomesticated Chenopodium berlandieri based on the thickness of the outer seed coat (Muller et al. 2017).
Goosefoot starts to sprout in May or early June.
Goosefoot flowers are not particularly showy. They are green, tightly packed clusters.
Goosefoot seeds appear in late summer.
The leaves of goosefoot are edible. Although they contain oxalic acid, they can be eaten moderation, especially when cooked.
Goosefoot flowers in mid to late summer.
Chenopodium berlandieri- pitseeded goosefoot- is distinctive from other goosefoot species in that their seeds are textured with small pits (hense the nickname).
These small seeds can be soaked overnight to remove saponins (bitter-tasting compounds present in the seeds) , then cooked into porridge or ground into flour.
Goosefoot leaves are alternate and can vary in shape, but are generally elongated with the lower leaves being largest and more toothy, while the upper leaves often have smooth margins.
Goosefoot plants have a fairly bushy form, although they can get fairly tall.
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