Herb: Stinking Goosefoot

Latin name: Chenopodium vulvaria

Synonyms: Chenopodium olidum

Family: Chenopodiaceae (Goosefoot Family)

Medicinal use of Stinking Goosefoot:

The whole plant is antispasmodic and emmenagogue. An infusion of the dried leaves is used in the treatment of hysteria and nervous troubles connected with women's ailments.

Description of the plant:


30 cm
(11 3/4 inch)

July to


Habitat of the herb:

Landward edges of salt marshes and shingle beaches, inland in waste areas.

Edible parts of Stinking Goosefoot:

Leaves and flower buds - cooked and used like spinach. The raw leaves should only be eaten in small quantities, see the notes above on toxicity. Although edible, the smell of the leaves would discourage most people from using this plant. Seed - cooked. Ground into a powder, mixed with wheat or other cereals and used 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.

Propagation of Stinking Goosefoot:

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

Cultivation of the herb:

Landward edges of salt marshes and shingle beaches, inland in waste areas.

Known hazards of Chenopodium vulvaria:

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.