Lamb's-quarters Chenopodium album, a member of the goosefoot family

goosefoot, common name for the genus Chenopodium, as well as for the goosefoot family, Chenopodiaceae, a family of widely distributed shrubs and herbs that includes the beet, spinach, and mangel-wurzel. Most species thrive in soils with a high mineral concentration and grow in such regions as the alkali plains of the SW United States and the pampas of Argentina. Aside from the vegetables of this family and quinoa, most members are not commercially valuable.

Of the genus Chenopodium, the goosefoot itself, C. album, (also called lamb's-quarters or pigweed) is a native of W Asia that has become a widespread weed; quinoa, C. quinoa, a plant native to the Andes mountains, is cultivated for its edible seeds and leaves. Other plants in the family include the Russian thistle (Salsola tragus), a tumbleweed of arid regions in the W United States and Eurasia, and greasewood (Sarcobatus species), grazing shrubs of the alkali plains also used locally as fuel.

Goosefoot is classified in the divison Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Caryophyllales, family Chenopodiaceae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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