Herb: Jerusalem Oak
Latin name: Chenopodium botrys
Family: Chenopodiaceae (Goosefoot Family)
Medicinal use of Jerusalem Oak:The plant is antiasthmatic. It is also used in the treatment of catarrh. The plant has been used as an anthelmintic as a substitute for C. ambrosioides. It contains 0.04% essential oil, but this oil does not contain the active ingredient ascaridol.
Description of the plant:
Habitat of the herb:Waste places, roadsides and disturbed soil in eastern N. America. Valleys, river terraces, around houses and roadsides in Tibet.
Edible parts of Jerusalem Oak:Leaves - cooked. A popular vegetable (the report does not say where!). The raw leaves should only be eaten in small quantities, see the notes above on toxicity. Seed - cooked. It can be ground into a meal and used with flour in making bread etc. The seed is small and fiddly, it should be soaked in water overnight and thoroughly rinsed before it is used in order to remove any saponins. The leaves are a tea substitute.
Other uses of the herb:Gold/green dyes can be obtained from the whole plant. The dried plant is a moth repellent. The aromatic and ornamental flower spikes are used. The whole plant is very aromatic and is used as a scent in pillows, bags, baskets etc.
Propagation of Jerusalem Oak:Seed - sow spring in situ. Most of the seed usually germinates within a few days of sowing.
Cultivation of the herb:Waste places, roadsides and disturbed soil in eastern N. America. Valleys, river terraces, around houses and roadsides in Tibet.
Known hazards of Chenopodium botrys:The leaves and seeds of all members of this genus are more or less edible. However, many of the species in this genus contain saponins, though usually in quantities too small to do any harm. Although toxic, saponins are poorly absorbed by the body and most pass straight through without any problem. They are also broken down to a large extent in the cooking process. Saponins are found in many foods, such as some beans. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish. The plants also contain some oxalic acid, which in large quantities can lock up some of the nutrients in the food. However, even considering this, they are very nutritious vegetables in reasonable quantities. Cooking the plants will reduce their content of oxalic acid. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition.
Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.