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Red Goosefoot

Chenopodium rubrum

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Amaranthaceae (Amaranth)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
1 metre tall
Ditches, fields, meadows, seaside, wasteland, waterside.

Green, no petals
There are several green flowers tightly packed into dense clusters. The flower clusters form spikes, up to 10cm in length. The flowers sometimes turn pink or red later in the season. Wind-pollinated.
A shiny, oval to egg-shaped, dry seed. Reddish-brown. In fruit from August to October.
Alternate, hairless, short-stalked leaves, up to 7cm wide. Triangular in shape but with a wedge-shaped base. The leaves are irregularly lobed. The lobes are rounded. The leaves sometimes turn red with maturity.
Other Names:
Coastblite Goosefoot.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Chenopodium rubrum, also known as red goosefoot, is an annual plant in the Amaranthaceae family. It is native to South and Central America, but has been introduced to other parts of the world. It can reach a height of up to 1 meter and has green leaves that are often tinged with red, and small, greenish-white flowers that bloom in the summer. The red coloration of the leaves is the origin of its common name, "red goosefoot."

Chenopodium rubrum is often found in a variety of habitats, including cultivated fields, meadows, waste ground, and disturbed soils. It is tolerant of a wide range of growing conditions, including dry and infertile soils, and is able to colonize in disturbed areas.

Like other Chenopodium species, it contains toxic compounds, such as saponins, and should not be consumed in large quantities. In some cases, it has been reported to cause skin rashes and other allergic reactions. It is not commonly used for food or medicinal purposes, and is considered a weed in agricultural lands. It is generally controlled by means of physical removal or chemical treatment.


Red goosefoot, scientifically known as Chenopodium rubrum, is a species of flowering plant that belongs to the family Amaranthaceae. This plant is native to North America, but it can now be found in many parts of the world, including Europe and Asia. It is a commonly found weed that grows in fields, gardens, and waste places. Despite its status as a weed, Red goosefoot has been used for centuries as a food source, medicine, and dye.

Appearance and Habitat

Red goosefoot is an annual plant that can grow up to 3 feet tall. Its stem is reddish-brown and hairless, and its leaves are alternate, simple, and have a triangular shape with coarsely-toothed edges. The leaves can be green or reddish, and they are covered in a fine layer of hairs. The flowers are small and greenish-white, and they are arranged in clusters at the end of the stems. The fruit is a small, shiny black seed.

Red goosefoot is a hardy plant that can grow in a variety of soil types and habitats. It can be found in disturbed areas, such as roadsides and fields, as well as in more natural areas like woodlands and prairies. It is particularly common in areas with dry, sandy soil.

Culinary Uses

Red goosefoot has been used as a food source for centuries. The young leaves and stems can be eaten raw in salads or cooked like spinach. The leaves have a slightly tangy flavor and can be used as a substitute for sorrel or spinach in recipes. The seeds can also be eaten and were used by Native Americans to make a type of porridge.

Medicinal Uses

Red goosefoot has a long history of use in traditional medicine. It was used by Native Americans to treat a variety of ailments, including fever, diarrhea, and skin conditions. The leaves were also used as a poultice to treat wounds and inflammation. Modern research has shown that Red goosefoot contains compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which may explain its traditional use in treating these conditions.

Dyeing Properties

Red goosefoot was also used as a source of dye. The leaves and stems can be boiled to create a reddish-brown dye that was used to color fabrics and baskets. The dye was particularly popular among Native American tribes in the southwestern United States.

Benefits and Precautions

Red goosefoot is a nutritious plant that is high in vitamins and minerals, including calcium, iron, and vitamin C. It is also a good source of fiber. However, it is important to note that Red goosefoot can accumulate nitrates, which can be harmful in high amounts. Therefore, it is recommended to only eat small amounts of this plant at a time, and to avoid consuming it if you have a history of nitrate-related health problems.

In addition, while Red goosefoot has been used as a traditional medicine for many years, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before using it for medicinal purposes. The compounds in this plant may interact with certain medications or have side effects, and more research is needed to fully understand its effects on human health.

Cultural Significance

Red goosefoot has played an important role in the cultures of many Native American tribes. It was used for food, medicine, and dye, and it also had spiritual significance. In some tribes, Red goosefoot was believed to be a powerful plant that could protect against evil spirits and bring good luck.

In modern times, Red goosefoot continues to be valued for its many uses. It is used by some gardeners as a cover crop to improve soil health, and it is also a popular plant for foraging and wildcrafting. Its hardiness and adaptability make it a useful plant for many different purposes.

Propagation and Care

Red goosefoot is a relatively easy plant to grow and propagate. It can be grown from seed, which should be sown directly into the ground in early spring after the last frost. The seeds can also be started indoors and transplanted once the weather warms up.

Red goosefoot prefers well-drained soil and full sun to partial shade. It can tolerate a wide range of soil types, but it prefers sandy or loamy soil. It is also drought-tolerant once established, but it may benefit from occasional watering during periods of extended dryness.

To keep Red goosefoot from becoming weedy, it is important to control its spread by removing any seedlings that appear in unwanted areas. This can be done by hand-pulling or using a hoe to cut the plants at the base. Additionally, planting Red goosefoot in a designated area or container can help to control its spread.

Uses of Red Goosefoot

Food: Red goosefoot can be eaten cooked or raw. The young leaves can be added to salads or used in place of spinach in recipes. The seeds can be ground into flour and used to make bread or other baked goods. The plant also produces small red berries that can be eaten raw or used to make jelly.

Medicine: Red goosefoot has been used in traditional medicine for many years. It is believed to have diuretic, laxative, and anti-inflammatory properties, and has been used to treat conditions such as arthritis, kidney stones, and urinary tract infections. It is also used as a poultice to treat skin conditions such as boils and rashes.

Dye: Red goosefoot can be used to create a natural dye that produces shades of pink, red, and orange. The leaves and stems of the plant are boiled to extract the dye, which can be used to dye fabrics, yarn, or other materials.

Garden: Red goosefoot is a hardy plant that can be used as a cover crop to improve soil health. It is also an attractive plant that can be grown as a decorative addition to gardens or landscapes.

Environmental Benefits

Red goosefoot is an important plant for wildlife, providing food and habitat for a variety of insects and birds. It is also a hardy plant that can grow in a variety of conditions, making it useful for erosion control and soil stabilization. Additionally, Red goosefoot is able to accumulate heavy metals, making it a useful plant for phytoremediation – the process of using plants to remove pollutants from soil or water.

In conclusion, Red goosefoot is a versatile and useful plant with many benefits. Whether used for food, medicine, or dye, this hardy plant has a long and varied history of use and continues to be valued by many people today. Additionally, it offers environmental benefits such as erosion control and phytoremediation, making it a valuable plant for those interested in sustainable living and environmental restoration.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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