Nettle-leaved Goosefoot

Chenopodium murale L.

Family: - Chenopodiaceae.


Chenopodium is from the Neo Latin form of the Greek words Khenopous from khen, a goose, and pous, a foot and refers to the shape of the leaves in some species.

Nettle leaved Goosefoot

Other Names:

Australian Spinach

Green Fat Hen

Nettle-leaf Goosefoot


The mature plant is erect and bushy in habit with an unpleasant minty smell when crushed. It has somewhat shiny, triangular, toothed leaves and purplish stems that may reach 1 m in height. It has dense clusters of tiny flowers in winter and spring.



Two. The cotyledon is 9 to 15 mm long. Tip rounded. Sides parallel to convex. Base tapered. The petiole is shorter than the blade and about 3 mm long, hairless, and reddish in colour. The seedling has both hypocotyl and epicotyl.

First leaves:

The leaves in the seedling and young plant are paired, the pairs being at right angles to each other. The early leaves are 10 to 15 mm long overall with a deeply grooved petiole approximately 4 mm long. The leaves are hairless and often mealy on the underside.


Alternate, bright green and often shiny on top and occasionally slightly mealy underneath. As the plant grows the leaves become lobed and almost as broad as long. The plant does not develop as a rosette. In the mature plant the leaves tend to grow singly. Unpleasant odour when crushed. Vesicular hairs.

Petiole - Most leaves have a petiole. Grooved. About half as long as the leaf.

Blade - Triangular to rhomboid, 20-80 mm long, edges coarsely, irregularly toothed, thin, acute tip. Often mealy when young.

Stem leaves - Up to 120 mm long overall, the blade being about 80 mm long by 80 mm across at the widest point. They are hairless. Upper stem leaves are more elongated and less lobed and often with no petiole.


The stems are up to 1000 mm tall, branch from the base and along their length, are solid, stout, erect or upward bending, circular or fluted or angular in cross section, with longitudinal red stripes or purplish to reddish and hairless or with vesicular hairs. Unpleasant, minty odour when crushed.

Flower head:

Flowers clustered in short, loose, leafy panicles of compact cymes at the ends of branches and in axils. Green when young but often become reddish with age.


Green and may be tinged with red as they mature, 2 mm in diameter. Mainly bisexual, with a few that are female.

Ovary - Smooth and hairless.

Perianth - 5 segments, 1-5 mm long, sparsely mealy on the outside and becoming smooth with age. Lobes twice as long as the tube, broadly egg shaped, membranous edges, obviously keeled, fine hairs.

Stamens - 5

Anthers -


Mealy, 5 brownish, hairy, segments enclose seed and fall with the seed.


Dull black, horizontal, disc shaped, tiny dots or pits on the surface and a sharply keeled edge.


Key Characters:

Leaves shiny and not mealy on the upper surface. Purplish stems. Ridged, dull black seeds


Life cycle:

Annual. Germination occurs from spring to autumn.



By seed

Flowering times:

August to April in SA.

Mainly June to October in Perth.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Vegetative Propagules:



Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Origin and History:

Cosmopolitan or Europe, Mediterranean and Southern Asia.



Found in all parts of Tasmania.



More abundant in higher rainfall areas.


Prefers high nitrogen situations.

Wide range, heavy clays, red earths, duplex soils.

Plant Associations:



Fodder of moderate palatability.

Eaten as a spinach substitute.


It occurs mainly in disturbed areas and stock yards, but sometimes reaches significant numbers in cereals or arable crops. It may also be found during the establishment stages of pasture.

Weed of sheep camps and under trees.

Taints milk.


May be toxic.

May contain high levels of nitrate under some conditions.


Nitrate toxicity.


Remove stock from infestation or provide alternative feed.

Don't expose hungry stock to infestations.



Management and Control:


Eradication strategies:

Herbicide resistance:

Biological Control:

Related plants:

Black Crumbweed (C. melanocarpum)

Boggabri (C. carinatum)

Crested Goosefoot (C. cristatum)

Desert Goosefoot (C. desertorum ssp. desertorum)

Fat Hen (C. album)

Fishweed (C. hubbardii)

Glaucous Goosefoot (C. glaucum)

Mallee Goosefoot (C. desertorum ssp. anidiophyllum)

Mexican tea (C. ambrosioides var. ambrosioides)

Nitre Goosefoot (C. nitrariaceum)

Queensland Bluebush (C. auricomum)

Scented Goosefoot (C. multifidum)

Small Crumbweed (Dysphania pumilio)

Small leaved Goosefoot (C. desertorum ssp. microphyllum)

Stinking Goosefoot (C. vulvaria)

Wormseed (C. ambrosioides var. anthelminticum)

C. curvispicatum

C. detestans

C. erosum

C. opulifolium

(C. polygonoides) Einadia polygonoides

(C. pseudomicrophyllum) C. desertorum ssp. microphyllum

(C. rhadinostachyum) Dysphania rhadinostachya

(C. trigonon) Einadia trigonos

Plants of similar appearance:

Nettle-leaved Goosefoot is distinguished from Fat Hen (C. album)by the darker green and relatively broader and more sharply toothed leaves that are not mealy on top, the purplish colour of the stem, and its ridged, dull black seeds.


Auld, B.A. and Medd R.W. (1992). Weeds. An illustrated botanical guide to the weeds of Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P149. Photo.

Black, J.M. (1965). Flora of South Australia. (Government Printer, Adelaide, South Australia). p???.

Cunningham, G.M., Mulham, W.E., Milthorpe, P.L. and Leigh, J.H. (1992). Plants of Western New South Wales. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P261. Photo.

Everist, S.L. (1974). Poisonous Plants of Australia. (Angus and Robertson, Sydney). P144.

Hyde-Wyatt, B.H. and Morris, D.I. (1975). Tasmanian weed handbook. (Tasmanian Department of Agriculture, Hobart, Tasmania). P65. Diagram.

Lamp, C. and Collet, F. (1990). A Field Guide to Weeds in Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne).

Lazarides, M. and Hince, B. (1993). CSIRO handbook of economic plants of Australia. (CSIRO, Melbourne). #297.17.

Marchant, N.G., Wheeler, J.R., Rye, B.L., Bennett, E.M., Lander, N.S. and Macfarlane, T.D. (1987). Flora of the Perth Region. (Western Australian Herbarium, Department of Agriculture, Western Australia). P85.


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