This article has been marked as incomplete and in need of reformatting. Please help us to improve it.

Practical Plants is a community wiki. You can edit this page to improve the quality of the information it contains. To learn how, please read the editing guide.


Toxic parts

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[K]. 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[1].

Edible uses


Seed - cooked[2][3][4][5][6][7]. A pleasant mild flavour, the seed can absorb the flavour of other foods that are cooked with it and so it can be used in a wide variety of ways[K]. It should be thoroughly soaked and rinsed to remove a coating of saponins on the seed surface. The seed can be used in all the ways that rice is used, as a savoury or sweet dish. It can also be ground into a powder and used as a porridge[8][9]. The seed can also be sprouted and used in salads[9] though many people find the sprouted seed unpleasant[K]. The seed contains a very high quality protein that is rich in the amino acids lysine, methionine and cystine, it has the same biological value as milk[10]. The seed contains about 38% carbohydrate, 19% protein, 5% fat, 5% sugar[11]. Leaves - raw or cooked[3][4][8][6]. The young leaves are cooked like spinach[9]. It is best not to eat large quantities of the raw leaves, see the notes above on toxicity.


Material uses

Gold/green dyes can be obtained from the whole plant[12]. Saponins on the seed can be used as a bird and insect deterrent by spraying them on growing plants[13]. The saponins are obtained by saving the soak-water used when preparing the seed for eating. The spray remains effective for a few weeks or until washed off by rain[K].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

There are no medicinal uses listed for Chenopodium quinoa.


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - sow April in situ. The seed can either be sown broadcast or in rows about 25cm apart, thinning the plants to about every 10cm. Germination is rapid, even in fairly dry conditions. Be careful not to weed out the seedlings because they look very similar to some common garden weeds[K].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Chenopodium quinoa. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


An easily grown plant, it requires a rich moist well-drained soil and a warm position if it is to do really well, but it also succeeds in less than optimum conditions[5][8]. Tolerates a pH range from 6 to 8.5 and moderate soil salinity[10]. Plants are quite wind resistant[K]. Plants are drought tolerant once they are established[10].

Plants tolerate light frosts at any stage in their development except when flowering[6][10]. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is commonly cultivated as a grain crop in Chile and Peru[14][6]. This plant is receiving considerable attention world-wide as a trouble-free easily grown seed crop for warm temperate and tropical zones. It has the potential to outcrop cereals on light land in Britain[13]. There are a great many named varieties[9][10]. The plant is day-length sensitive and many varieties fail to flower properly away from equatorial regions, however those varieties coming from the south of its range in Chile are more likely to do well in Britain[10]. Different cultivars take from 90 - 220 days from seed sowing to harvest[10]. Yields as high as 5 tonnes per hectare have been recorded in the Andes, which compares favourably with wheat in that area[10]. Young plants look remarkably like the common garden weed fat hen (Chenopodium album). Be careful not to weed the seedlings out in error[K].

The seed is not attacked by birds because it has a coating of bitter tasting saponins[141, K]. These saponins are very easily removed by soaking the seed overnight and then thoroughly rinsing it until there is no sign of any soapiness in the water. The seed itself is very easy to harvest by hand on a small scale and is usually ripe in August. Cut down the plants when the first ripe seeds are falling easily from the flower head, lay out the stems on a sheet in a warm dry position for a few days and then simply beat the stems against a wall or some other surface, the seed will fall out easily if it is fully ripe and then merely requires winnowing to get rid of the chaff.


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Chenopodium quinoa. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Chenopodium quinoa.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Chenopodium quinoa
Imported References
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
no shade
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
  • Salinity
  • Drought
  • Strong wind
Native Climate Zones
None listed.
Adapted Climate Zones
None listed.
Native Geographical Range
None listed.
Native Environment
None listed.
Ecosystem Niche
None listed.
Root Zone Tendancy
None listed.
Deciduous or Evergreen
Herbaceous or Woody
Life Cycle
Growth Rate
Mature Size
Flower Colour
Flower Type

"image:Reismelde.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Reismelde.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Reismelde.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:Reismelde.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Reismelde.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:Reismelde.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

"image:Reismelde.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Reismelde.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Reismelde.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Reismelde.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Reismelde.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Reismelde.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Reismelde.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Reismelde.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Reismelde.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki."image:Reismelde.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki."image:Reismelde.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki."image:Reismelde.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.


  1. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
  2. ? 2.02.1 F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
  3. ? Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
  4. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
  5. ? Vilmorin. A. The Vegetable Garden. Ten Speed Press ISBN 0-89815-041-8 ()
  6. ? Schery. R. W. Plants for Man. ()
  7. ? 7.07.1 Towle. M. A. The Ethno-Botany of Pre-Columbian Peru. ()
  8. ? Thompson. B. The Gardener's Assistant. Blackie and Son. (1878-00-00)
  9. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
  10. ? Popenoe. H. et al Lost Crops of the Incas National Academy Press ISBN 0-309-04264-X (1990-00-00)
  11. ? 11.011.1 Hill. A. F. Economic Botany. The Maple Press (1952-00-00)
  12. ? 12.012.1 Grae. I. Nature's Colors - Dyes from Plants. MacMillan Publishing Co. New York. ISBN 0-02-544950-8 (1974-00-00)
  13. ? Carruthers. S. P. (Editor) Alternative Enterprises for Agriculture in the UK. Centre for Agricultural Strategy, Univ. of Reading ISBN 0704909820 (1986-00-00)
  14. ? Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
  15. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)

Cite error: <ref> tag with name "PFAFimport-139" defined in <references> is not used in prior text.

"image:Reismelde.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.