Common Lambsquarters is more than just a common weed in Minnesota. It possesses unique characteristics and an interesting history which makes it a useful plant for humans and livestock. Following is a history, growth and development and control discussion of this most prolific plant.
History of Common
The origin of the weed name for "Common lambsquarters" is from the Greek word; a goose, and pous or podos, a foot. The leaf shape of plants in this weed (goosefoot) family are reminiscent of goose feet. The goosefoot family, Cbenopodiaceae, includes many vegetables: table beets, sugarbeets, spinach, and marigold. The name "fat hen," used for several plants of the Goosefoot family, was first published in English in 1795. Richard Charles Alexander Prior (1809-1902) noted that lambsquarters is a corruption of "Lammas quarter," a harvest festival held Aug. 1 in the 9th century English church, at which loaves of bread made from the first ripe corn were consecrated. "Lammas" was one of the quarter days which marked off the quarters of the year; it may be another name for the term "loaf-Mass."
Distribution and Uses
Common lambsquarters grew in Britain in the late-glacial and post-glacial periods. Neolithic, Bronze Age, and early Iron Age people ate it, and the Romans and Europeans used it extensively. People once regarded lambsquarters as one of the most delicious of wild vegetables. In spring they gathered the young plants, boiled them until tender, and served them with butter, salt and pepper.
Seeds of common lambsquarters were dried and were ground into flour for bread, cakes, or gruel. Flour made of lambsquarters seed is dark colored from the blackish seed coats. The pioneers added lambs-quarter seeds to breads, pancakes, muffins, and cookies .
In the United States, lambsquarters is the predominant weed in soybeans. Lambsquarters grows mainly in disturbed areas, particularly in yards and around farm buildings near local concentrations of nitrogen or organic matter.Common lambsquarters, an annual with succulent stems and leaves, grows from 2 to 5 ft tall. It may have reddish streaked stems, with short alternate branches. The stalked leaves are variable: some are narrow, some are wide-pointed, toothed ovals, and others are almost triangular with wavy teeth.
Common lambsquarters is in the same family as spinach and beets, which are damaged by the same pests and diseases, including beet leaf-hoppers and spinach mildew. Lambsquarters produces airborne pollen which causes hay fever.
An average-sized lambsquarters plant produces about 72,450 seeds in fall, ensuring lambs-quarters the following spring. Lambsquarters can germinate over a wider range of conditions; dormancy factors contribute to its success as a weed. Lambsquarters seeds will germinate even after being buried 20 years.
Several of the more than 20 species of the genus Chenopodium, mostly annual weeds, are considered toxic or potentially toxic; some have caused nitrate poisoning in livestock (6) and even loss of livestock in Australia. Common lambsquarters also contains oxalic acid and is poisonous to sheep and swine when eaten in large quantities over a long period.
Research suggests that tillage promotes germination and that peak emergence frequently occurs within 2 to 3 weeks after turning the soil, provided soil moisture and temperatures are sufficient. The optimum seed depth for emergence is about 0.1 inch, and very few seedlings emerge deeper than from 1 inch. Spring emerged plants generally flower and set seed in late summer and fall. Common lambsquarters is primarily a self-pollinated plant.
Species of common lambsquarters has shown to be resistant to Triazine and ALS herbicides in the Midwest since the 1970's. As far as glyphosate herbicide resistance is concerned, environmental conditions before, during and after foliar application can influence performance. Thus glyphosate application timings to large plants and unfavorable weather have been the main factors leading to inconsistent control. In general higher rates may still control smaller plants that exhibit low resistant levels, but may not effectively control larger plants. Most weed scientists recommend that growers rotate herbicides in order to apply different sites of actions of herbicides and avoid the repeated use of just glyphosate repeatedly in the same fields on an annual basis in order to minimize the potential for resistance development.