Lamb's Quarter is also called chualar, pigweed, and also goosefoot from the shape of its leaves. Lamb's quarter likes moist areas and grows near streams, rivers, in open meadows, and wet forest clearings. It is found throughout the world. It is a member of the Amaranthaceae (Amaranth) Family.
How to recognize:
Lamb's Quarter looks like a dusty weed from a distance. The alternate toothed leaves are light green on top and whitish on the bottom. They are somewhat damond-shaped or shaped like a goosefoot.
The leaf surface is waxy and rain and dew rolls right off the leaves. Each leaf grows up to 4 inches (10 cm) long and the entire plant is usually 2 to 4 feet (0.6 to 1.3m) tall. Lamb's quarter produces tiny green flower clusters on top of spikes in summer. The flowers are densely packed together along the main stem and upper branches.
Each flower has five green sepals with no petals. Its seeds are small, round, and flattened. Branches are angular, somewhat ridged, and striped with pink, purple, or yellow. The stems are ribbed and are usually stained with purple or red.
Edible and Other Use:
In the USA this iplant is considered a weed: however, in some places, it is grown as a food crop. The young shoots, leaves, flowers, and seeds are all edible and can be used like spinach. It has a strong, slightly sweet flavor. The plant does contain oxalic acid so smaller quantities are recommended when eaten raw. The seeds of this herb should be cooked or soaked in water before use. The soaked seeds can also be grown into a powder to use as a flour. Lamb's quarter roots can be crushed to make a mild soap substitute as it contains saponins.
The plant is very nutritious and contains a rich source of vitamins A, B-2, C, and Niacin and minerals like calcium, iron, and phosphorus. It has been used as a vegetable to treat scurvy and other nutritional diseases.
Use a poultice made of the leaves to soothe burns. Bruise the leaves and place them on the burned area. Apply a clean cloth over them and leave in place for a few hours.
Skin Irritations, Eczema, Bites, Itching and Swelling:
A poultice made from simmered, fresh lamb's quarter leaves can be applied to treat minor skin irritations, itching, rashes, and swelling. It soothes the skin, reduces inflammation (it is an anti-inflammatory), and helps the skin heal. If fresh herbs are not available, use a compress made with Lamb's Quarters Decoction. For internal inflammation, lightly steam the leaves and eat them as a vegetable.
Digestive Issues and as a Mild Laxative:
Its leaves are loaded with fiber. This fiber makes it very effective in preventing and treating constipation. Cooked leaves loosen the stools and increase bowl movements.
Taken internally, lamb's quarter relieves stomachaches and digrestive complaints, including colic. You can eat the cooked leaves and stems while eating beans to relieve the gas caused by them. Even easier, cook the leaves and stems in the pot with the beans.
Relieves Pain from Arthritis and Gout:
Apply a poultice made from fresh, simmered lamb's quarter leaves directly on the skin above the inflammation and pain to treat arthritis and gout. When fresh leaves are not available, use Lamb's Quarter Decoction on the skin as a wash or in a compress.
Dental Health and Tooth Decay:
Use a Lamb's Quarter decoction to treat tooth decay and bad breath. Apply a drop or two of the decoction directly onto the tooth or rinse the mouth with the liquid. It calms inflammation and pain. You can also chew on the raw leaves.
Colds, Flu and General Illness:
Serve Lamb's quarters as a vegetable when people have a cold or flu with respiratory problems. It functions as a mild analgesic to relieve body aches, induces perspiration to bring down fevers, and acts as an expectorant to help the body get rid of excess mucous. It also has anti-asmatic properties and contains Vitamin C.
Break off or prune the top two inches (5cm) of shoots. The tops are more tender and less bitter. Choose plants from secluded places, away from roadways, industrial areas, and waste site where they may pick up high levels of nitrates and other toxins. Wash the leaves before use.
Lamb's quarter is an edible plant that has very little risk when used in moderate amounts. However, the plant does contain saponins in small quantities. Saponins are broken down by the cooking process. Like many green, leafy vegetables, it also contains oxalate crystals, which are not recommended in large amounts for people susceptible to kidney stones.
Recipes. Lamb's Quarter Decoction:
Snip fresh lamb's quarter leaves into small pieces and place into a cup to measure. Place the leaves in a pot and equal measure of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Once the herbs are wilted, add more water only if needed to cover the herbs. Cool the decoction and strain out the leaves. Keep in the refridgerator for up to 3 days (The leaves can be eaten if desired).