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Lamb's Quarters - Don't Throw Away this Edible Weed!

Updated on September 1, 2012

Chenopodium album

A sketch of lamb's quarters. Please ask someone knowledgeable and look in several sources to be sure you have identified it correctly before using it.
A sketch of lamb's quarters. Please ask someone knowledgeable and look in several sources to be sure you have identified it correctly before using it. | Source

Lamb's Quarters - My Story

My First Taste

Lamb's Quarters, or Chenopdium album, is one of the first edible weeds that I learned how to identify and it was almost by accident. My father is an avid gardener and he is diligent about weeding and caring for his plants. Most of us weed out the "unwanted" plants, and my father is no different.

One day, I was standing in the yard while my father was tending to his garden. My grandmother (Yiayia) came to him and started sorting through the pile of discarded plants.

"Why are you throwing these away?" She asked, pointing to a large plant with leaves shooting out from the stem. "They're delicious!" Sure enough, they made it in the salad that night and I was hooked.

Do you know what it looks like?

Do you have this plant lying around your garden? If so, and if you absolutely must yank it, save the leaves and eat them!

I understand this to be a highly nutritive plant. The video I shared with you on this page says it is a good source of calcium, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and also has some Iron and Phosphorous. It tastes very much like spinach and can be used the same way in recipes or in salads. I included more information about how I use Lamb's Quarters at the end of this page.

By the way, I also included a video that I think is very good. It lists the nutrition information and shows exactly what the plant looks like. However, he said it was "bland tasting". I disagree, I think it's yummy. :-)

How to Identify Lamb's Quarters

I believe that the best way to identify a wild plant you aren't familiar with is to have someone show you. However, it isn't always easy to find someone who knows how to do it - it's kind of a lost art.

  • Find photos online. Google and Bing both have images that get pulled up in their searches. Use "Lamb's Quarters" or "Chenopodium album" for the keyword and see which photos you can come up with.
  • A good field guide. You should have at least one field guide of your region lying around the house. Look up the plant and read the description so that you can be sure you have the right one. I included my favorite identification books as Amazon links in the next section of this hub.
  • Weed walks. Check with your local health food store, newspaper, or even the library to see if there are any weed walk events. Or, ask around. There may be people in your life who know how to identify plants and are willing to show you what Lamb's Quarters looks like.

Very Good Video on Identifying Lamb's Quarters

Using Lamb's Quarters (Wild Spinach)

I use lamb's quarters mainly as a salad green or as a replacement for spinach in recipes. Here are some ideas:

  • Greek spinach pie (Spanakopita). Last year, I pulled so many lamb's quarters up from my overgrown garden, I was able to make a batch of spanakopita with it.
  • Spanakorizo - Spinach and Rice. Actually, I even had some leftover after I made the Spanakopita that I was able to make a big batch of this Spinach and rice, too.
  • Salads. The easiest way to use it by far is to make a salad out of it. It is really good mixed with a little chickweed.
  • Freshly picked! If I see lamb's quarters growing somewhere that isn't close to a road or near where people use chemicals I pick them and eat them! It's so delicious right off the plant.

To be honest, I also enjoy munching on the plant freshly picked, as I am walking. To me, that is the joy of weed-walking ... eating what you find when you find it.

What do you think?

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    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 

      5 years ago from Peru, South America

      I've never tried them, but now I will!

    • kohuether profile imageAUTHOR

      Katherine Olga Tsoukalas 

      5 years ago from New Hampshire

      Have you tried the leaves? I wonder if they taste similar to lamb's quarters. I bet they do! Quinoa looks very beautiful.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 

      5 years ago from Peru, South America

      Yes, people do eat quinoa leaves. They say they're even more nutritious than quinoa!

    • kohuether profile imageAUTHOR

      Katherine Olga Tsoukalas 

      5 years ago from New Hampshire

      It is a very interesting topic. I don't know if quinoa leaves are edible Are they? I know lamb's quarters seeds are edible.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 

      5 years ago from Peru, South America

      That's very interesting. Thanks for looking it up! Now that you mention it, the Lambs Quarter leaves do look similar to quinoa which has purple-tinged leaves. I've been asking around to see what I can find about edible wild greens. The ladies from the country know a lot about such things!

    • kohuether profile imageAUTHOR

      Katherine Olga Tsoukalas 

      5 years ago from New Hampshire

      I tried to look for "Chenopodium album" online to see if it grows in Peru, and all I could find was an article in Spanish for Chenopodium quinoa. Lamb's quarters and quinoa are part of the same family. I can't really read Spanish so I am not sure what the page says. Maybe you'll have better luck searching online? Then, I found an article that seems to assume that Chenopodium album and Chenopodium quinoa are the same thing, but they aren't.... It seems like it would grow in Peru. Sounds like Lamb's quarters might be a good one for them to try if you can find them!

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 

      5 years ago from Peru, South America

      This hub has piqued my interest in wild greens! I wonder if we have Lambs Quarter in Peru? I'll look into it. We have friends, southerners, who moved here to Peru. They really missed greens such as mustard and turnip. They found that broccoli and cauliflower greens are just as delicious, are highly nutritious and they give them away here to feed animals! Sometimes we don't realize what we have around us that can be used instead of disposed of. Thanks for this great information.

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