Amaranthaceae, the amaranth family; formerly Chenopodiaceae, the goosefoot family.
Plant: Upright plant, 6"-3' high with mealy-white stem and leaves, and a spike of inconspicuous, greenish flowers. Annual.
Flowers: Tiny, greenish or whitish, 1/8", with 5 sepals, 5 yellow stamens, in tight, spikelike cluster or cymose panicle. Flowers are inconspicuous, though the terminal, greenish spikes are distinctive.
Leaves: Alternate, ovate or rhombic, to about 4", covered above and below with whitish, mealy particles. Coarsely toothed or lobed, with medium-length petioles.
Fruit: Small, bladderlike, 1-seeded.
Habitat: Gardens, fields, waste areas, roadsides, disturbed soil.
Also known as White Goosefoot, or just goosefoot, the plant is a European import
widely distributed in North America, where it is generally considered a weed.
In India and Africa, goosefoot is widely cultivated for its edible greens and seeds.
The greens can be eaten like spinach, and the seeds used as a grain.
Some caution is prudent with the greens as, like spinach, they contain some oxalic acid.
In fact, spinach and beets are members of the same family, and another member,
quinoa, is grown specifically as a grain.
Classically these plants were placed in the family Chenopodiaceae. On the basis of modern
genetic studies, the family has been merged with the amaranth family, Amaranthaceae.
Where to find it:
Not particularly common in the park, compared to some similar amaranth family members,
including Mexican Tea (C. ambrosioides.
Found occasionally in open waste areas, and the rock patches surrounding
peripheral parking lots.