Purple Goosefoot

Scleroblitum atriplicinum (F.Muell.) Ulbr.

Family: Chenopodiaceae

Names:

Purple Goosefoot - because the leaves are often tinged with purple.

Other Names:

Lamb's tongue - because the dark red seed peeps out from the surrounding fruiting structure and resembles a lamb's tongue.
Purple-leaved Goosefoot.
Starry Goosefoot

Summary:

Fleshy, annual herb.

Description:

Cotyledons:

Two.

Leaves:

Slightly fleshy, green or tinged with purple.
Stipules -
Petiole - long
Blade - Basal leaves are 50 mm or more long, with broad pointed 3 lobed tips. They can be variable in shape and are often oval or spear shaped with a tapering base.
Stem leaves - Shorter and narrower.

Stems:

Lie flat on the ground, bent upwards or upright.

Flower head:

Flowers:

3 mm long, stalkless, in dense clusters in leaf axils.
Ovary -
Calyx -
Perianth -
Sepals -
Petals -
Stamens -
Anthers -

Fruit:

Whitish when ripe. 3 mm long, with 4 segments partially enclosing the dark red seed.

Seeds:

Dark red.

Roots:

Key Characters:

Dark red seeds.

Biology:

Life cycle:

Annual.

Physiology:

Reproduction:

By seed.

Flowering times:

Spring.

Seed Biology and Germination:

Vegetative Propagules:

Hybrids:

Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

It is most abundant in winter and spring on flood plains after the water has receded and in years of high rainfall.

Origin and History:

Australian native?

Distribution:

ACT, NSW, QLD, SA, VIC.

Courtesy Australia's Virtual Herbarium.

Habitats:

Climate:

Soil:

Prefers clays and clay loams. Most abundant in moist depressions in flood plains.

Plant Associations:

Occurs over a wide range of vegetation types.

Significance:

Beneficial:

Winter/spring forage that is readily grazed.

Detrimental:

Toxic to sheep and cattle when young and succulent. Sheep are more sensitive than cattle. Mature plants appear to have little toxicity.

Toxicity:

Usually nitrate, but up to 3.5% (dry weight) calcium oxalate has been found. Mortalities have usually been recorded from July to October from stock grazing lush young growth.

Symptoms:

Arching of back, tucked up appearance, stiff stilted walk, dribbling green saliva, lung congestion, pericardial haemorrhage and inflammation of stomach, intestines and kidney . If driven after feeding on prolific growth they show overall debility and progressive weakness in hindquarters. Symptoms are worse after access to water.
Cattle may show protrusion of the rectum.
Possibly hypocalcaemia.

Treatment:

If Nitrate poisoning:
Sheep - Injection by vein of 6-10 mL of 1% methylene blue.
Cattle - Injection by vein of 100-200 mL of 1% methylene blue.
If Oxalate poisoning:
Sheep - Injection by vein (or under skin) of 30-100 mL of 20% calcium borogluconate. Supplement this with 0.25-1 L of limewater or 2-5 g chalk in water or 60-100 g Epsom salts in water by mouth.
Cattle - Injection by vein (or under skin) of 300-900 mL of 20% calcium borogluconate. Supplement this with 1-5 L of limewater or up to 50 g chalk in water or 250-500 g Epsom salts in water by mouth.

Legislation:

Management and Control:

Thresholds:

Eradication strategies:

Herbicide resistance:

Non reported.

Biological Control:

Related plants:

Plants of similar appearance:

Lamb's Tongue is used in Queensland to refer to Plantago varia, a very different plant.

References:

Cunningham, G.M., Mulham, W.E., Milthorpe, P.L. and Leigh, J.H. (1992). Plants of Western New South Wales. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P280. Photo.

Everist, S.L. (1974). Poisonous Plants of Australia. (Angus and Robertson, Sydney). P145. Diagram.

Lazarides, M. and Hince, B. (1993). CSIRO handbook of economic plants of Australia. (CSIRO, Melbourne). #1108.1.

McBarron, E.J. (1983). Poisonous plants. (Inkata Press, Melbourne). P39. Diagram.

Acknowledgments:

Collated by HerbiGuide. Phone 08 98444064 or www.herbiguide.com.au for more information.