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Stinking Goosefoot

Chenopodium vulvaria

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:
60 centimetres tall
Beaches, fields, meadows, saltmarshes, sand dunes, sea cliffs, seaside, wasteland.

Green, no petals
The tiny flowers appear in compact leafless spikes. 5 stamens. Wind pollinated.
The fruit is a shiny, black, flattened and round to egg-shaped seed (achene). Ripens from August to October.
A greyish annual flower with oval, scarcely toothed leaves.
Stinking Goosefoot is named for it is said to smell unpleasantly of rotting fish.
Other Names:
Dog's Orache, Notchweed.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Chenopodium vulvaria, also known as stinking 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. It can reach a height of up to 60 cm and has green, lobed leaves and small, greenish-white flowers that bloom in the summer.

The plant is known for its strong, unpleasant odor, particularly when the leaves are crushed. This characteristic is the origin of its common name, "stinking goosefoot." Chenopodium vulvaria 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.


Chenopodium vulvaria, commonly known as stinking goosefoot or dysentery weed, is a species of flowering plant in the family Amaranthaceae. It is native to Europe and western Asia but has since been introduced to other parts of the world, including North America and Australia. Despite its unpleasant smell, this plant has been used for various purposes throughout history, and its unique characteristics make it an interesting subject for study.


Stinking goosefoot is an annual or biennial plant that typically grows to a height of 30-60 cm. Its leaves are alternate and have a triangular shape with a pointed tip. They are typically green in color but can sometimes have a reddish tint. The plant's flowers are small and greenish-yellow, and they bloom from July to September. Stinking goosefoot gets its name from its unpleasant smell, which is often described as being similar to that of rotting fish or decaying meat.


Stinking goosefoot thrives in disturbed areas such as gardens, roadsides, and waste places. It can also be found in fields and along riverbanks. While it is considered an invasive species in some areas, it is also valued for its medicinal properties.


Despite its foul odor, stinking goosefoot has a long history of medicinal use. It was traditionally used to treat digestive problems, including diarrhea and dysentery. The plant's leaves were also used to make poultices to treat wounds and skin infections.

In addition to its medicinal uses, stinking goosefoot has also been used as a food source. The plant's leaves and shoots are edible and can be cooked and eaten like spinach. However, it is important to note that the plant should be thoroughly cooked before consumption to avoid any potential health risks.


Recent studies have shown that stinking goosefoot contains compounds that have potential therapeutic applications. For example, one study found that the plant's essential oil has antimicrobial properties and could be used to treat certain infections. Another study found that the plant's extract could be used to reduce inflammation and pain.

While stinking goosefoot may not be the most pleasant-smelling plant, its unique characteristics and long history of use make it an interesting subject for study. From its traditional medicinal uses to its potential therapeutic applications, stinking goosefoot is a reminder that even the most unlikely plants can offer valuable benefits to humans. However, it is important to exercise caution and consult a healthcare professional before using stinking goosefoot for medicinal purposes.

More Information

Stinking goosefoot is also known for its high nutritional value. The leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. This makes it a valuable addition to a healthy diet, especially in areas where access to fresh produce is limited.

In some parts of the world, stinking goosefoot is still used as a traditional medicine. For example, in traditional Iranian medicine, it is used to treat digestive problems, as well as skin diseases and wounds. In Turkey, it is used as a diuretic and to treat urinary tract infections.

However, it is important to note that stinking goosefoot can also have toxic effects. The plant contains oxalic acid, which can interfere with the absorption of calcium and lead to the formation of kidney stones. Ingesting large amounts of the plant can also cause digestive upset and other adverse effects. As with any medicinal plant, it is important to use stinking goosefoot with caution and under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

In conclusion, while stinking goosefoot may not be the most well-known or beloved plant, it has a long history of use for both medicinal and nutritional purposes. Its unique characteristics, including its unpleasant odor, make it a subject of interest for researchers and plant enthusiasts alike. However, it is important to exercise caution when using stinking goosefoot for any purpose, and to be aware of its potential toxicity.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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