Fat Hen

Chenopodium Album

Fat hen

Chenopodium album (Fat Hen) is a annual weed growing to 0.9 m (3ft) by 0.2 m (0ft 8in). It is not frost tender. It is in flower from July to October, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by wind. It is suitable for light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. It cannot grow in the shade and prefers moist soil. It is also knows as Lambsquarter.

Leaves

Oval to triangular with slightly wavy toothed edges. Blue green on top and sometimes with a hint of red flushing underneath, the leaves also have a silvery sheen or bloom that on close inspection is made up of microscopic, wax like crystals that repel water, this is a good ID for Fat Hen. The leaves become thinner and more angular on the rising flower stem.

Fat then leaves

Flowers

Spirals of white/green tiny flowers on spikes originating from the leaf base and stem junction appear between June and October.

Fat hen flower

Preferred Habitat

A common weed of cultivated ground, especially on rich soils and old manure heaps. It is often one of the first weeds to appear on newly cultivated soils.

Weed Control

Fat Hen reproduces only through seeds. Most Fat Hen seeds germinate in late spring or early summer, although they can continue to germinate throughout the growing season. Control weeds with hand pulling and hoeing and mulching. Fat Hen has a short taproot, so it pulls up easily. The goal is to remove the weed before it matures enough to produce seeds. The plants die with the first frost, and next year’s plants grow from the seeds they leave behind. Keep lawns mown and aerated in order to reduce the chance to the weed growing and setting seed.

Not Just a Weed

Chenopodium Album is known to be a weed but they are loaded with numerous health benefits and it is famous as a healthy vegetable in India. It is rich in Vitamin A and said to be a blood purifier.

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At Vialii, we are strong proponents of organic gardening and try to avoid weedkiller if we can. To many people, weeds are wonderful things, whether they are grown as pretty wildflowers or for their health benefits. But we understand they can be frustrating in gardens so our Weedipedia pages detail our most common weeds, how to identify & get rid of them but also their benefits too. If you need help getting rid of your own weeds please get in touch. 


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