This section is from the book "The Standard Cyclopedia Of Horticulture Vol2", by L. H. Bailey. See also: Western Garden Book: More than 8,000 Plants - The Right Plants for Your Climate - Tips from Western Garden Experts.
(goosefoot, alluding to the shape of the leaves). Chenopodidcex. Goosefoot. Widely dispersed weedy herbs, with very inconspicuous greenish flowers, some of which occur in gardens as oddities or for ornament, and others are pot-herbs of very minor importance. Spinach, beet, and orach are allied plants.
Plants of various habit, mostly erect: flowers perfect, bractless, sessile in small masses and these clusters arranged in spikes or panicles; calyx 4-5-parted, petals wanting; stamens usually 5; styles 2 or 3.: seed lenticular: leaves alternate. The calyx sometimes enlarges and becomes succulent and colored, inclosing the fruit, and the glomerules may then look like berries. - Perhaps 60 species in all parts of the globe, annuals and perennials, sometimes woody. Many of them are field and garden weeds. They are mostly mealy or glandular herbs, often with strong odor. Some of them are used as pot-herbs or "greens."
A. Flowers in dense heads or glomerules which become berrylike and bright red in Jr.
Aschers. (Blitum capitatum, Linn.). Strawberry Blite. Annual, erect and becoming diffuse or spreading, branching, glabrous or nearly so: leaves soft, hastate-ovate, toothed, stalked: fruit - clusters large and becoming fleshy, in an interrupted spike, the upper part leafless. Eu. - A frequent but not pernicious weed, and sometimes offered as a pot-herb.
aa. Flowers not in dense separate heads, and the clusters not becoming prominently fleshy or colored.
b. Plant shrubby, spinescent.
F. Muell. Rigid, much-branched, often prostrate shrub or undershrub, mealy-white: leaves linear-oblong or linear-spatulate, obtuse, entire, 1 in. or less long, often clustered: flowers clustered in dense or more or less interrupted spikes and panicles, greenish. Austral. - Offered in Eu.
bb. Plant herbaceous.
c. Species perennial: a pot-herb.
(Blitum Bonus-Henricus, Reichb.). Good King Henry. Mercury (by corruption, Markery). Stout and erect from a thick root-stock, to 2 1/2 ft., glabrous:* leaves broad, triangular-hastate or ovate, with very long wide-spreading basal points, entire or undulate: flowers in paniculate spikes. Eu. -Escaped now and then; and sometimes cult, for "greens." cc. Species annual.
Jacq. (C. Atriplicis, Linn. f.). Vigorous, erect, 3 ft., the young parts and leaves covered attractively with a rose-violet or violet-purple crystalline pulverulence: leaves spatulate or rhomboid or oval, obtuse, long-petioled, the lower ones sinuate-dentate and the upper lanceolate and entire: flowers small and numerous, in dense pyramidal leafy reddish clusters. China. - An old garden plant, seldom seen in this country; grown for its colored character in summer. There are different forms, one with variegated foliage.
Coste & Reyn. Very large, 8 ft., much like the preceding and perhaps derived from it: stem glabrous, striped white and red: leaves triangular to rhomboid, 4 in. or less long, red-pulverulent: flowers in a long red panicle. S. France. - Differs from C. purpurascens in its greater size and its black shining somewhat sharp-edged seeds. The brilliant colors disappear as the plant matures.
Erect, stout, stem furrowed, 4-5 ft.: leaves triangular-ovate, sinuate, long-petioled, angulate-pinnatifid, glaucous: flowers small and green, in dense axillary and terminal farinose clusters arranged in panicles: seeds very large. W. slope of the Andes. B.M. 3641. - A very important plant in W. S. Amer., the seeds being used as food. There are white- and red-fruited forms. Sometimes cult, in this country as a curiosity. Allied to C. album, the common pigweed.
Feather Geranium. Jerusalem Oak. Erect, glandular-pubescent and viscid, aromatic, 1-3 ft. high, with pinnatifid long-petioled leaves and long, feather-like, enduring spikes, for which it is used in vases and baskets; pretty. Eu., and widely naturalized although not usually becoming abundant.
Many weedy chenopods invade cult, grounds. C. album, Linn., the common pigweed or lamb's quarters, is a favorite for "greens." This species runs into many forms. C. viride, of Eu. and Asia, has seeds that are said to be edible. C. Vulvaria, Linn., sparingly intra, from Eu., has the smell of stale fish. C. ambrosioides, Linn., Mexican tea, and variety anthelminticum, Gray, wormseed, are frequent; they contain strong essential oils. The weedy species are variable, and puzzling to the systematise L H B