Herb: Ca?ihua


Latin name: Chenopodium pallidicaule


Family: Chenopodiaceae (Goosefoot Family)



Edible parts of Ca?ihua:

Leaves - cooked and used like spinach. The raw leaves should only be eaten in small quantities, see the notes above on toxicity. Young leaves contain up to 30% protein (dry weight). Seed - cooked. It can be toasted and ground into a nutty tasting powder that can be used as a breakfast cereal. It can also be used to make biscuits, mixed with flour it is used to make bread and a hot beverage similar to hot chocolate can also be made from it. Very small, about 1mm in diameter, but abundantly produced. The seed contains little or no saponins and so can be used without pre-treatment. The seed is extremely nutritious, it contains about 16% of a high quality protein (it is notably rich in lysine, isoleucine and tryptophan), almost 60% carbohydrate and 8% fat.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Annual


Height:
60 cm
(2 feet)

Flovering:
July to
October

Habitat of the herb:

A common weed of cultivated ground, especially on rich soils, it grows in areas where frosts can occur in 9 months of the year, including during the growing season.

Other uses of Ca?ihua:

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

Propagation of the herb:

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

Cultivation of Ca?ihua:

A common weed of cultivated ground, especially on rich soils, it grows in areas where frosts can occur in 9 months of the year, including during the growing season.

Medicinal use of the herb:

None known

Known hazards of Chenopodium pallidicaule:

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.