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Chenopodium

Amaranthaceae
Annuals, Perennials

Most of these spinach relations are weeds, but some are eaten. Individual flowers are greenish, insignificant.

Plant in late spring and harvest in fall. Needs short days and mild weather to bloom and set seed; takes light frost. After harvest, seeds are rinsed to remove surface bitterness, then cooked like rice. (The saponins in unwashed quinoa trigger an allergic reaction in some people.) Excellent production in high Rocky Mountain valleys. Strains that yield at low elevation are also available.

Chenopodium ambrosioides

Strongly scented leaves to 5 in. long, deeply toothed. Sometimes grown or collected roadside as seasoning for Mexican dishes.

Chenopodium quinoa, photo courtesy of Mark Turner
Chenopodium quinoa, photo courtesy of Mark Turner

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Chenopodium quinoa

Pronounced KEEN-wa, quinoa grows to 5 ft. tall and produces dense flower and seed clusters. A traditional high-protein Andean grain; resembles sesame seed.

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