Pigweed, the popular name in this country for several species of chenopodium, especially G album; in England the same plants are called goosefoot, a more appropriate name, being a translation of the botanical name, which was given on account of the shape of the leaves (Gr. , a goose, and , foot). In England the term pigweed (also sowbane) is confined to one species, G rubrum, which was supposed to be fatal to swine. The chenopo-diums or pigweeds are weedy-looking plants, sometimes covered with a mealy dust. They have alternate leaves and small, green, inconspicuous flowers, crowded in little spikes in the axils of the leaves, or forming spiked panicles; the flowers are apetalous, and consist of a usually five-cleft calyx, five stamens, two styles (rarely three), with a one-celled ovary, which in ripening becomes a thin one-seeded utricle; the embryo in the seed is coiled in a partial or complete ring around the mealy albumen. We have half a dozen species of chenopodium proper, all of which are probably introduced from Europe, though some are found in situations where they appear as if indigenous; usually they are met with in cultivated grounds and in the streets and waste places of towns. C. album, more generally known as pigweed than any other, is 1 to 3 ft. high, with leaves varying from rhombic-ovate to lanceolate, and more or less angled-toothed; the plant is usually covered with a white mealiness, though it is variable in this as in other characters.
This is one of the many plants eaten by country people as " greens," and cooked when young is not a poor substitute for spinach; it is often called lamb's-quarters in this country, a name which in England is given to a plant of a different but related genus. Another species, G. Bonus-Henricus, was formerly cultivated in England for its large spinach-like leaves, and called good Henry or good King Harry and fat-hen. All of our pigweeds are annual, and while they indicate slovenly culture, they can hardly be regarded as troublesome weeds. The genus gives its name to a family, the chenopodiacece, which includes also the beet, mangel wurzel, and spinach, and among flowers the exceedingly fragrant Boussingaultia, or Madeira vine, the leaves of which are used in France as spinach.
Pigweed (Chenopodium album).