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Uses

Toxic parts

The essential oil in the seed and flowering plant is highly toxic. In excess it can cause dizziness, vomiting, convulsions and even death[1][2]. The plant can also cause dermatitis or other allergic reactions[1].

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 plant will reduce its 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[2].

Edible uses

Notes

Leaves - cooked[3]. The tender leaves are sometimes used as a potherb[4]. Used as a condiment in soups etc[5][6][7], they are said to reduce flatulence if eaten with beans[4]. The leaves have a rank taste due to the presence of resinous dots and sticky hairs[8]. The raw leaves should only be eaten in small quantities, see the notes above on toxicity.

Seed - cooked[7][9]. 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.

An infusion of the leaves is a tea substitute[4].

Leaves

Unknown part

Tea

Material uses

The plant is used as a fumigant against mosquitoes and is also added to fertilizers to inhibit insect larvae[2]. Gold/green dyes can be obtained from the whole plant[10].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Mexican tea is a Central American herb that has been used for centuries to expel parasitic worms from the body[11].

The whole plant is analgesic, antiasthmatic, carminative, stomachic and vermifuge[12][13][14][15][16][17][18]. An infusion can be used as a digestive remedy, being taken to settle a wide range of problems such colic and stomach pains[11]. Externally, it has been used as a wash for haemorrhoids, as a poultice to detoxify snake bites and other poisons and is thought to have wound-healing properties[11]. Use with caution and preferably under the supervision of a qualified practitioner[14][2]. This remedy should not be prescribed for pregnant women[2]. See also the notes above on toxicity. Until fairly recently, this was one of the most commonly used vermifuges, though it has now been largely replaced by synthetic drugs[1]. The seed, or an essential oil expressed from the seed, was used[19]. It is very effective against most parasites, including the amoeba that causes dysentery, but is less effective against tapeworm[19][2]. Fasting should not precede its use and there have occasionally been cases of poisoning caused by this treatment[19]. The oil is used externally to treat athlete's foot and insect bites[2]. One report says that it is an essential oil that is utilised[20]. This is obtained from the seed or the flowering stems, it is at its highest concentration in the flowering stems before seed is set, these contain around 0.7% essential oil of which almost 50% is the active vermifuge ascaridol[20]. The essential oil is of similar quality from plants cultivated in warm climates and those in cool climates[20].

The leaves are added in small quantities as a flavouring for various cooked bean dishes because their carminative activity can reduce flatulence[1].

Ecology

Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.

Forage

Nothing listed.

Shelter

Nothing listed.

Propagation

Seed - whilst it can be sown in situ in mid to late spring, we have had better results by sowing the seed in a cold frame in early spring. Put a few seeds in each pot and thin to the best plant if necessary. Germination rates are usually very good and the seedlings should appear within a few days of sowing the seed. Plant out in late spring, after the last expected frosts.

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



Cultivation

An easily grown plant, succeeding in most soils but disliking shade[12][21]. It prefers a moderately fertile soil[21]. Tolerates a pH in the range 5.2 to 8.3.

Plants are annuals or short-lived perennials[2]. They are not very hardy when grown outdoors in Britain and so are best grown as an annual[2]. Plants have often self-sown freely in our Cornish trial grounds, but the seed often germinates in the autumn and then does not manage to survive the winter[2]. This species is sometimes grown as a medicinal and culinary plant, especially in its native Mexico. The sub-species C. ambrosioides anthelminticum is more active medicinally and is the form most often cultivated for its vermicidal activity[2].

The bruised leaves emit an unpleasant foetid odour[22].

Crops

Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Chenopodium ambrosioides. 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 ambrosioides.

Descendants

Cultivars

Varieties

None listed.

Subspecies

None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Taxonomy
Binomial name
Chenopodium ambrosioides
Genus
Chenopodium
Family
Chenopodiaceae
Imported References
Material uses & Functions
Botanic
Propagation
Cultivation
Environment
Cultivation
Uses
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Functions
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Environment
Hardiness Zone
8
Heat Zone
?
Water
moderate
Sun
full sun
Shade
no shade
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Ecosystems
    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.
    Life
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    ?
    Herbaceous or Woody
    ?
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    ?
    Mature Size
    Fertility
    ?
    Pollinators
    Flower Colour
    ?
    Flower Type











    References

    1. ? 1.01.11.21.31.4 Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America. Houghton Mifflin Co. ISBN 0395467225 (1990-00-00)
    2. ? 2.002.012.022.032.042.052.062.072.082.092.102.112.12 Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
    3. ? 3.03.1 Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
    4. ? 4.04.14.24.3 Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
    5. ? 5.05.1 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
    6. ? 6.06.1 Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
    7. ? 7.07.17.2 Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World. Keigaku Publishing (1976-00-00)
    8. ? 8.08.1 Harrington. H. D. Edible Native Plants of the Rocky Mountains. University of New Mexico Press ISBN 0-8623-0343-9 (1967-00-00)
    9. ? 9.09.1 Yanovsky. E. Food Plants of the N. American Indians. Publication no. 237. U.S. Depf of Agriculture. ()
    10. ? 10.010.1 Grae. I. Nature's Colors - Dyes from Plants. MacMillan Publishing Co. New York. ISBN 0-02-544950-8 (1974-00-00)
    11. ? 11.011.111.211.3 Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants Dorling Kindersley. London ISBN 9-780751-303148 (1996-00-00)
    12. ? 12.012.112.2 F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    13. ? 13.013.1 Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
    14. ? 14.014.114.2 Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
    15. ? 15.015.1 Schery. R. W. Plants for Man. ()
    16. ? 16.016.1 Singh. Dr. G. and Kachroo. Prof. Dr. P. Forest Flora of Srinagar. Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh (1976-00-00)
    17. ? 17.017.1 ? A Barefoot Doctors Manual. Running Press ISBN 0-914294-92-X ()
    18. ? 18.018.1 Hill. A. F. Economic Botany. The Maple Press (1952-00-00)
    19. ? 19.019.119.219.3 Weiner. M. A. Earth Medicine, Earth Food. Ballantine Books ISBN 0-449-90589-6 (1980-00-00)
    20. ? 20.020.120.220.3 Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement). Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi. (1986-00-00)
    21. ? 21.021.121.2 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    22. ? Genders. R. Scented Flora of the World. Robert Hale. London. ISBN 0-7090-5440-8 (1994-00-00)
    23. ? Livingstone. B. Flora of Canada National Museums of Canada ISBN 0-660-00025-3 (1978-00-00)

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    Facts about "Chenopodium ambrosioides"RDF feed
    Article is incompleteYes +
    Article requires citationsNo +
    Article requires cleanupYes +
    Belongs to familyChenopodiaceae +
    Belongs to genusChenopodium +
    Has binomial nameChenopodium ambrosioides +
    Has common nameMexican Tea +
    Has drought toleranceIntolerant +
    Has edible partLeaves +, Seed + and Unknown part +
    Has edible useUnknown use + and Tea +
    Has fertility typeWind +
    Has flowers of typeHermaphrodite +
    Has hardiness zone8 +
    Has lifecycle typeAnnual + and Perennial +
    Has material partUnknown part +
    Has material useDye + and Insecticide +
    Has mature height1 +
    Has mature width0.7 +
    Has medicinal partUnknown part +
    Has medicinal useAnalgesic +, Antiasthmatic +, Antifungal +, Carminative +, Stomachic + and Vermifuge +
    Has search namechenopodium ambrosioides + and mexican tea +
    Has shade toleranceNo shade +
    Has soil ph preferenceAcid +, Neutral +, Alkaline + and Very alkaline +
    Has soil texture preferenceSandy +, Loamy + and Clay +
    Has sun preferenceFull sun +
    Has taxonomic rankSpecies +
    Has taxonomy nameChenopodium ambrosioides +
    Has water requirementsmoderate +
    Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
    PFAF cultivation notes migratedNo +
    PFAF edible use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF material use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF medicinal use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF propagation notes migratedNo +
    PFAF toxicity notes migratedNo +
    Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
    Uses mature size measurement unitMeters +
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