Herb: Strawberry Blite


Latin name: Chenopodium capitatum


Synonyms: Blitum capitatum


Family: Chenopodiaceae (Goosefoot Family)



Medicinal use of Strawberry Blite:

The plant has been used as a lotion for treating black eyes and head bruises. The juice of the seeds and an infusion of the plant has been used to treat lung congestion.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Annual


Height:
60 cm
(2 feet)

Flovering:
July to
August

Habitat of the herb:

Rubbish tips etc in Britain.

Edible parts of Strawberry Blite:

Leaves - raw or cooked. Used like spinach, they are a good source of vitamins C and A. The young leaves are best. Poor quality. The raw leaves have been used in salad mixtures, but should only be eaten in small quantities, see the notes above on toxicity. Fruit - raw or cooked. An insipid but sweet flavour, they can be added to salads. The fruit is about 12mm in diameter. A red food colouring can be obtained from the fruit. Seed - cooked. It can be ground into a meal and mixed with cereal flours 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.

Other uses of the herb:

Gold/green dyes can be obtained from the whole plant. A red dye is obtained from the fruit, it is used in cosmetics and as a paint.

Propagation of Strawberry Blite:

Seed - sow spring in situ. Most of the seed usually germinates within a few days of sowing.

Cultivation of the herb:

Rubbish tips etc in Britain.

Known hazards of Chenopodium capitatum:

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.