Herbs & Plants

Chenopodium vulvaria

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Botanical Name : Chenopodium vulvaria
Family: Amaranthaceae
Genus:  Chenopodium
Species: C. vulvaria
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Caryophyllales

Synonyms: Stinking Motherwort. Wild Arrach.  Netchweed. Goat’s Arrach. Stinking Arrach. Stinking Goosefoot.(as it is easily identified by its rotten-fish smell that is due to its trimethylamine content.)

Common Names :Wild arrach, Arrachs or Oraches,Wild arrach (Chenopodium vulvaria), or stinking goosefoot,

Habitat: Chenopodium vulvaria is  native distribution is practically pan-European and extends eastward to Pakistan. However, it has also naturalised in Australia, California and parts of South America.It is often found on roadsides and dry waste ground near houses, from Edinburgh southward.
Its stem is not erect, but partly Iying, branched from the base, the opposite branches spreading widely, a foot or more in length.
The stalked leaves are oval, wedge-shaped at the base, about 1/2 inch long, the margins entire.


The small, insignificant green flowers are borne in spikes from the axils of the leaves and consist of five sepals, five stamens and a pistil with two styles. There are no petals and the flowers are wind-fertilized. They are in bloom from August to October.

The whole plant is covered with a white, greasy mealiness, giving it a grey-green appearance which when touched, gives out a very objectionable and enduring odour, like that of stale salt fish, and accounts for its common popular name: Stinking Goosefoot.

Edible Uses:
Leaves and flower buds – cooked and used like spinach. The raw leaves should only be eaten in small quantities, see the notes above on toxicity. Although edible, the smell of the leaves would discourage most people from using this plant. Seed – cooked. Ground into a powder, mixed with wheat or other cereals and used in making bread etc. The seed is small and fiddly, it should be soaked in water overnight and thoroughly rinsed before it is used in order to remove any saponins.


Medicinal Uses:
Part Used: Herb.

Constituents: Chemical analysis has proved Trimethylamine to be a constituent, together with Osmazome and Nitrate of Potash.The plant gives off free Ammonia.

The name of ‘Stinking Motherwort’ refers to the use of its leaves in hysteria and nervous troubles connected with women’s ailments: it has emmenagogue and anti-spasmodic properties. In former days, it was supposed even to cure barrenness and in certain cases, the mere smelling of its foetid odour was held to afford relief.

An infusion of 1 OZ. of the dried herb in a pint of boiling water is taken three or four times daily in wineglassful doses as a remedy for menstrual obstructions. It is also sometimes used as a fomentation and injection, but is falling out of use, no doubt on account of its unpleasant odour and taste.

The infusion has been employed in nervous debility and also for colic.

Known Hazards:
The leaves and seeds of all members of this genus are more or less edible. However, many of the species in this genus contain saponins, though usually in quantities too small to do any harm. Although toxic, saponins are poorly absorbed by the body and most pass straight through without any problem. They are also broken down to a large extent in the cooking process. Saponins are found in many foods, such as some beans. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish. The plants also contain some oxalic acid, which in large quantities can lock up some of the nutrients in the food. However, even considering this, they are very nutritious vegetables in reasonable quantities. Cooking the plants will reduce their content of oxalic acid. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider..



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