Chenopodium album is a fast-growing weedy annual plant in the genus Chenopodium.
Though cultivated in some regions, the plant is elsewhere considered a weed.
Chenopodium album is extensively cultivated and consumed in Northern India as a food crop,and in English texts it may be called by its Hindi name bathua or bathuwa.
Known as wild spinach to many, Lamb’s quarters is even more nutritious than its tame counterpart. It is rich in beta carotene, vitamin B2, niacin, calcium, iron, and phosphorus. Lamb’s quarter greens are also an excellent source of vitamin A and more than 4% protein.
The leaves and young shoots may be eaten as a leaf vegetable, either steamed in its entirety, or cooked like spinach, but should be eaten in moderation due to high levels of oxalic acid. Each plant produces tens of thousands of black seeds. These are high in protein, vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium.
Lamb’s quarters can be used internally to relieve an upset stomach and to prevent scurvy. A tea can be made to treat diarrhea.
It can also be used externally as a poultice to treat burns or swelling. It’s also known for relieving itching.
Archaeologists analysing carbonized plant remains found in storage pits and ovens at Iron Age, Viking Age, and Roman sites in Europe have found its seeds mixed with conventional grains and even inside the stomachs of Danish bog bodies.
In India, the plant is popularly called bathua and found abundantly in the winter season. The leaves and young shoots of this plant are used in dishes such as soups, curries, and paratha-stuffed breads, especially popular in Punjab. The seeds or grains are used in phambra or laafi, gruel-type dishes in Himachal Pradesh, and in mildly alcoholic fermented beverages such as soora and ghanti.
As some of the common names suggest, it is also used as feed (both the leaves and the seeds) for chickens and other poultry.