Herb: Huauzontle

Latin name: Chenopodium nuttalliae

Synonyms: Chenopodium berlandieri nuttalliae

Family: Chenopodiaceae (Goosefoot Family)

Edible parts of Huauzontle:

Leaves - cooked. A mild flavoured spinach substitute. The raw leaves should only be eaten in small quantities, see the notes above on toxicity. Flower clusters - cooked. Used like broccoli, they are considered a gourmet food. Seed - cooked. A mild flavour, it can be used as a staple food. It can be used in all the ways that rice is used, either as a sweet or as a savoury dish. The seed should be soaked in water overnight and then thoroughly rinsed to wash off the bitter tasting saponins. Very nutritious and sustaining. The seed is fairly small but is easy to harvest.

Description of the plant:


60 cm
(2 feet)

July to

Habitat of the herb:

Not known

Other uses of Huauzontle:

Gold/green dyes can be obtained from the whole plant.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - sow spring in situ. Germination is normally very rapid, but be careful not to weed out the seedlings because they look rather like the garden weed fat hen (C. album).

Cultivation of Huauzontle:

Not known

Medicinal use of the herb:

None known

Known hazards of Chenopodium nuttalliae:

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.