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054  Chenopodium album L.

Chenopodiaceae

Nome comune: Farinello comune

Its native range is obscure due to extensive cultivation,[7] but includes most of Europe,[8] from where Linnaeus described the species in 1753.[9] Plants native in eastern Asia are included under C. album, but often differ from European specimens.[10] It is widely introduced elsewhere, e.g. Africa,[11] Australasia,[12] North America,[6] and Oceania,[5] and now occurs almost everywhere in soils rich in nitrogen, especially on wasteland. Chenopodium album is a fast-growing weedy annual plant in the genus Chenopodium that is extensively cultivated and consumed in Northern India as a food crop[1] (referred to as ????; i.e. "Bathua" or "Bathuwa" in Hindi)[2]. In Britain, where the plant is considered a weed, its standard name is Fat-hen;[3][4], though this is used for other plants also; the unambiguous name is White Goosefoot,[5] and it is also known as lamb's quarters,[6] nickel greens,[citation needed] pigweed[6] or dungweed,[citation needed] or more ambiguously as just goosefoot.[5] It tends to grow upright at first, reaching heights of 10-150 cm (rarely to 3 m), but typically becomes recumbent after flowering (due to the weight of the foliage and seeds) unless supported by other plants. The leaves are alternate and can be varied in appearance. The first leaves, near the base of the plant, are toothed and roughly diamond-shaped, 3-7 cm long and 3-6 cm broad. The leaves on the upper part of the flowering stems are entire and lanceolate-rhomboid, 1-5 cm long and 0.4-2 cm broad; they are waxy-coated, unwettable and mealy in appearance, with a whitish coat on the underside. The small flowers are radially symmetrical and grow in small cymes on a dense branched inflorescence 10-40 cm long.[4][10][6][5] Regions Where Cultivated The species is cultivated as a grain or vegetable crop (such as in lieu of Spinach) as well as animal feed in Asia[13] and Africa, in Europe and North America it is commonly regarded as a weed.[14] [edit] Potential Impact on Conventional Crops It is one of the more robust and competitive weeds, capable of producing crop losses of up to 13% in corn, 25% in soybeans, and 48% in sugar beets at an average plant distribution.[citation needed] It may be controlled by dark tillage, rotary hoeing, or flaming when the plants are small. Crop rotation of small grains will suppress an infestation. It is difficult to control with chemical means.[citation needed] Its pollen can contribute to hayfever-like allergies.[citation needed] [edit] Beneficial Use in Ecological Pest Control Chenopodium album is vulnerable to leaf miners, making it a useful trap crop as a companion plant. Growing near other plants, it attracts leaf miners which might otherwise have attacked the crop to be protected. It is a host plant for the beet leafhopper, an insect which transmits curly top virus to beet crops. Food Rice and Chenopodium album leaf curry with onions and potatoesThe leaves and young shoots may be eaten as a leaf vegetable, either steamed in its entirety, or cooked like spinach, but should be eaten in moderation due to high levels of oxalic acid.[15] Each plant produces tens of thousands of black seeds. These are high in protein, vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. Quinoa is a closely related species which is grown specifically for its seeds.[16] It is also used as a medicinal plant in traditional African medicine. Archaeologists analysing carbonized plant remains found in storage pits and ovens at Iron Age and Roman sites in Europe have found its seeds mixed with conventional grains and even inside the stomachs of Danish bog bodies. [17] In India the leaves and young shoots of this plant are used in dishes such as Sarson Da Saag, soups, curries and in Paratha stuffed breads, especially popular in Punjab. The seeds or grains are used in phambra or laafi, gruel type dishes in Himachal Pradesh, and in mildly alcoholic fermented beverages such as soora and ghanti.[18]