This is considered an introduced weed and can thrive near roadsides and in disturbed soil. Gardeners in the high country will recognize this herb and hopefully after reading this will consider it another food, medicine, and fiber dye to harvest while pulling weeds. Another common name for this plant is “pigweed”. Often the common names give some insight into the plant and the reference of pigs and lamb help clue one into its preferred habitat. Manure and compost at Beaver Ponds is where it will be found.
This plant can be prepared like spinach and used as a salad or a pot herb. Rich in Vitamin C and beta-carotene this green leafy volunteer in the garden can provide healing properties. Like many foods and plants moderation is wise. In this case high levels of oxalic acid can pose some risk with over-consumption or predisposition to kidney stone formation. Plants in the brassica family such as cabbage, broccoli, spinach and Brussels sprouts all contain oxalic acid. Rhubarb, which also grows well at our 10,000-foot elevation, contains high levels of oxalic acid. Calcium-oxalate stones are the most common type of kidney stone so caution with ingesting these plants should be exercised for those people prone to this type of condition.
Seeds can be ground into meal and made into bread. The flour is thought to be similar in flavor and nutrition to buckwheat. Seeds can also be eaten raw. For topical application the bruised leaves can make a nice poultice relieving heat from excessive sun exposure and helping with some headaches. The whole plant can be boiled to help in making a natural green dye for fiber.
“Weed” species such as Lamb’s Quarters can be utilized as foods, topical medicine, and for dye making. Why not make something after clearing weeds from your garden when possible?
Eric Chatt N.D.