Open the Advanced Search

Many-seeded Goosefoot

Chenopodium polyspermum

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.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Amaranthaceae (Amaranth)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
80 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, meadows, wasteland, woodland.

Green, no petals
Flowers are tiny and in tight, leafy clusters around the leaf axils. Pollinated by the wind.
The fruit is a dry seed, ripening from August to October.
Stalked, oval to oblong leaves, measuring up to 8cm long and 2.5cm wide. The entire plant reddens in autumn. Annual.
Other Names:
Allseed, Manyseed Goosefoot, Pigweed.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Chenopodium polyspermum, also known as many-seeded goosefoot, is an annual plant in the Amaranthaceae family. It is native to Europe, Asia and North America, but has been introduced to other parts of the world. The plant can reach a height of up to 80 cm and has green, lobed leaves, and small, greenish-white flowers that bloom in the summer. The plant bears a large number of seeds which are somewhat triangular and shiny black, giving it its common name many-seeded goosefoot.

Chenopodium polyspermum 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.


Many-seeded goosefoot, scientific name Chenopodium polyspermum, is an annual herbaceous plant that belongs to the family Amaranthaceae. This plant is commonly known as the 'fat hen' or 'pigweed' due to its association with pigs, who love to eat the leaves of the plant. The Many-seeded goosefoot is native to Europe but has been introduced to many parts of the world, including North America, Asia, and Australia.

Description and Characteristics

The Many-seeded goosefoot can grow up to a height of 30-80 cm and has an erect stem that is mostly smooth or slightly hairy. The leaves are alternate and have a triangular or diamond shape, and can grow up to 4 cm in length. The flowers are small and greenish-white, and the seeds are tiny and numerous, which is why the plant is called Many-seeded goosefoot. The plant flowers from June to October, and the seeds ripen from August to October.


The Many-seeded goosefoot has a long history of use as a medicinal plant. It has been used to treat various ailments, such as respiratory problems, digestive disorders, and skin conditions. The leaves of the plant are rich in vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron. In some countries, the leaves are still eaten as a vegetable or added to soups and stews.

The plant also has some traditional uses. The seeds of the Many-seeded goosefoot are used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat dysentery, diarrhea, and constipation. In some countries, the plant is also used as a natural dye to color fabrics.


The Many-seeded goosefoot is easy to cultivate and can grow in a variety of soils, including sandy and loamy soils. The plant prefers a sunny location and can tolerate drought conditions. The plant can be propagated by seed, and the seeds can be sown in the spring or fall.

Although the Many-seeded goosefoot is considered an invasive species in some parts of the world, it has many benefits. It is a useful medicinal plant and a nutritious vegetable that can be grown easily. It also serves as a source of food for wildlife, particularly pigs, who love to eat the leaves.

Many-seeded goosefoot, also known as 'fat hen' or 'pigweed', is a herbaceous plant that has many benefits. It has been used for centuries as a medicinal plant, a vegetable, and a natural dye. The plant is easy to grow and can tolerate harsh conditions, making it a useful plant for both humans and wildlife. While it may be considered an invasive species in some parts of the world, the Many-seeded goosefoot has many positive qualities that should be appreciated.

More Information

In addition to its medicinal and culinary uses, the Many-seeded goosefoot has some ecological benefits as well. The plant serves as a habitat for various insects and birds, which in turn can help to pollinate other plants in the area. The seeds of the Many-seeded goosefoot are also an important food source for many types of birds, including sparrows, finches, and doves.

However, the Many-seeded goosefoot can also be problematic in certain situations. As an invasive species, it can outcompete native plant species and disrupt local ecosystems. It can also cause issues for farmers, as it can be difficult to control and can reduce the yield of crops.

To control the spread of the Many-seeded goosefoot, it is important to monitor and manage populations in areas where it is invasive. This can include hand-pulling or cutting the plants, or using herbicides if necessary. It is also important to prevent the spread of seeds, by avoiding transporting soil or plant material from infested areas to other locations.

In some cultures, the Many-seeded goosefoot has been used as a symbol of fertility and abundance. For example, in ancient Greek mythology, the goddess Demeter was associated with the Many-seeded goosefoot, as it was believed to be a symbol of her abundance and fertility. The plant was also associated with the harvest and was often used in rituals and festivals.

In addition to its cultural significance, the Many-seeded goosefoot has been the subject of scientific research due to its potential health benefits. Some studies have found that the plant may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which could help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Other studies have suggested that the plant may have antimicrobial properties and could be effective in treating certain infections.

Interestingly, the Many-seeded goosefoot has also been used in traditional medicine practices for its diuretic and laxative properties. Some studies have also suggested that the plant may have potential as an anti-diabetic agent, as it has been found to improve glucose tolerance and reduce insulin resistance in animal studies.

Moreover, the Many-seeded goosefoot has also been used as a natural insecticide. The plant contains saponins, which are natural compounds that have insecticidal properties. In some cultures, the leaves of the Many-seeded goosefoot have been used to repel insects, and the plant has been used as an ingredient in natural insect repellent sprays.

Furthermore, the Many-seeded goosefoot has been used in traditional herbal medicine to treat skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne. The plant has anti-inflammatory properties, and its leaves can be made into a poultice or ointment to soothe and heal irritated skin.

Overall, the Many-seeded goosefoot is a versatile and fascinating plant with many potential uses. While it can be invasive in some areas, it also has many ecological and cultural benefits. Its medicinal properties have been studied and utilized for centuries, and it continues to be the subject of scientific research today. With appropriate management and utilization, the Many-seeded goosefoot can continue to be a valuable resource for people and wildlife alike.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map