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Leafy Goosefoot

Blitum virgatum

  • Latin synonym: Chenopodium foliosum
  • Family: Amaranth family – Amaranthaceae
    (formerly Goosefoot Family – Chenopodiaceae)
  • Growing form: Annual herb.
  • Height: 10–50 cm (4–20 in.). Stem erect, ascending, glabrous, usually branched and red-striped.
  • Flower: Flowers modest, bisexual, regular (actinomorphic), approx. 2 mm (0.08 in.) wide. Tepals 3–5, green, mealy (with glandular hairs). Stamens 1. Pistil of 2 fused carpels. Flowers stalkless, in axillary clusters forming an intermittent leafy spike-like inflorescence.
  • Leaves: Alternate, lowest long-stalked, uppermost short-stalked, light green, blade 3–8 cm (1.2–3.2 in.), lower triangular, hastate based, large-toothed, upper narrowly diamond shaped, with entire margins.
  • Fruit: Red (sepals becoming red and juicy as they ripen), strawberry-like cluster. Seed approx. 1 mm (0.04 in.).
  • Habitat: Cultivated plant, casual escape close to gardens and wasteland.
  • Flowering time: July–August.

Subfamily Chenopodioideae is a difficult group from the point of view of identifying the species, not least because many species mutate a lot. The genus is easily confused with genus Atriplex, but they can be told apart by the fact that Chenopodioideae species are bisexual (Atriplex species are unisexual) and the the latter’s fruits typically have 2 partly joined bracteoles (Chenpodioideae species do not). Genus Atriplex’s leaves are usually located opposite while Chenopodioideae species are alternate.

One of leafy goosefoot’s names in Finnish is strawberry spinach because the fruit bunches look a lot like strawberry and are edible with quite a sweet, mild flavour. The leaves, on the other hand, can be prepared just like spinach. They are at their best before the flowering time.

Blite Goosefoot

Blitum capitatum, also Chenopodium capitatum
Name also: Strawberry blite, Strawberry goosefoot, Strawberry spinach, Indian paint, Indian ink

Blite goosefoot looks a lot like leafy goosefoot, especially in the fruiting stage, and if anything its fruit looks even more like stawberries. In Swedish it is known as strawberry goosefoot. Blite goosefoot’s leaves are more sparsely toothed than leafy goosefoot’s, and the “strawberries” on the upper part of the stem lack subtending bracts. Both blite and leafy goosefoot are quite rare useful plants which can escape from gardens to the surrounding land.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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