Prepared by Jennifer L. D’Appollonio, Assistant Scientist, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469. Updated February 2018.

Scientific name: Chenopodium album L.

Common name(s): lambsquarters, white goosefoot

Links: USDA PLANTS Profile , NPIN Profile, Go Botany

Images: (to see enlargements [PC]: click on image, then right click and choose “view image”)



-species is highly variable in appearance

-needs a microscope to distinguish from other Chenopodium

-Characteristics include

  • glandular hairs which give leaves/flowers a mealy appearance,
  • 5 keeled sepals
  • lower leaves lobed/toothed but upper leaves entire, etc. However, characteristics may vary (see photos with lack of glandular hairs).
  • Most consider the differences in plants to be varieties, but some separate into distinct species. See also Flora Novae Angliae information at the bottom of the Go Botany webpage

-the leaves are a food sources to:

  • catepillars
  • beetles
  • mammals

-may be confused with C. berlandieri or C. strictum; see left sidebar on Go Botany webpage


-full sun

-disturbed areas

-fields and weadows


-pulling up seedlings

-mowing over plants before seed production

Natural History:

-native to Eurasia

-Native Americans used the dried seeds to make flour

-the plants can be edible

  • due to saponins, cook, steam, or freeze before eating



Haines, A., Farnsworth, E., Morrison, G., & New England Wild Flower Society. (2011). New England Wildflower Society’s Flora Novae Angliae: A manual for the identification of native and naturalized higher vascular plants of New England. Framingham, MA: New England Wild Flower Society. p. 323.

NC Extension. “Chenopodium Album.” North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox, NC State University, 2020,