Lambs Quarters Weed: A Comprehensive Guide

What is Lambsquarters Weed?

Lambsquarters weed (Chenopodium album), also known as common lambs quarters, is a type of annual weed that is found throughout the United States. It is a ubiquitous weed that grows in a variety of settings, including agricultural fields, horticultural crops, gardens, wastelands, and disturbed sites. It thrives on both acid and basic soils, making it highly pervasive throughout the United States.

It is a fast-growing weed that can reach heights of 10–150 cm (rarely to 3 m), but usually becomes recumbent after flowering (because of the weight of the foliage and seeds) unless supported by other plants.

Unfortunately, this notorious weed has displayed remarkable tenacity, having developed resistance to certain herbicides since 1975. Most reports involve corn crops but soybeans, cropland, nurseries, mint, and potatoes have also been affected. While previous cases demonstrated immunity only to Photosystem II inhibitors (Group 5 herbicides such as atrazine), two Group 2 ALS inhibitor incidents have come to light since 2001.

In addition to its herbicide resistance, Common Lambsquarters is also a prolific seed producer. A single plant can produce thousands of seeds that can remain viable in the soil for many years. This further contributes to the spread of the weed and makes it difficult to control.

When it comes to controlling Lambsquarters weed, prevention is crucial. This includes methods and practices like crop rotation, maintaining healthy soil, and using weed-free seeds. Furthermore, hand-weeding and harvesting can be successful in controlling the weed before it produces seeds.

While lambs quarters can be a bothersome weed in agricultural settings, it does have some positive attributes. It is edible and has been consumed by humans for thousands of years, with the leaves and seeds used in various dishes. Also, it has been used in traditional medicine to treat various ailments, including coughs and diarrhea.

Lambsquarters Weed At A Glance

Common nameLambsquarters weed
Scientific nameChenopodium album L.
Plant typeAnnual herbaceous plant
Native rangeEurasia and North Africa
Invaded regionsWorldwide
HabitatCroplands, gardens, waste areas, disturbed sites
Growth rateRapid, up to 2 inches per day
HeightUp to 6 feet tall
SeedsSmall, black, produced in large quantities (up to 75,000 per plant)
Seed viabilityUp to 10 years in the soil
LeavesDiamond-shaped, gray-green, with white mealy coating
FlowersSmall, green, inconspicuous
CompetitivenessHighly competitive with crops for resources
Ecological impactCan reduce biodiversity and alter soil chemistry
Economic impactCan reduce crop yields and increase production costs
ResistanceHas developed resistance to certain herbicides (Photosystem II inhibitors and Group 2 ALS inhibitors) since 1975.
Control methodsMechanical removal, cultural methods (crop rotation, cover crops), chemical herbicides

How Lambsquarters Weed Spread?

Lambsquarters weed is a highly adaptable plant that can spread in a number of ways. One of the most important means by which this weed spreads is through its seeds. A single plant can produce thousands of tiny black seeds that can survive for years in the soil. Wind, water, animals, and humans can all disperse these seeds.

The wind has a significant role in the spread of Lambsquarters weed seeds. These seeds can be carried long distances by even a light breeze. As a result, seeds can be blown into new areas and establish new populations.

The seeds can also spread through water. Heavy rainfall or flooding can carry seeds downstream, allowing them to establish in new regions along riverbanks or other wetland habitats.

Animals can also help disseminate the seeds of Lambsquarters weed. Birds and small mammals like mice and rabbits eat the seeds and can spread them to new areas through their droppings. It is notable that the seeds of lambsquarters weed can survive the digestive tract of most livestock, so manure can also spread these seeds.

Humans can also contribute to the spread of this weed. The seeds can be unintentionally spread by equipment like lawnmowers, farm machinery, and vehicles.

Once established in a new area, this weed can quickly become dominant due to its adaptability and ability to produce many seeds.

Effective weed management practices, including prevention and control measures, can help to minimize the spread of this problematic weed. It is essential to prevent seed spread by taking care while removing mature plants from the field.

How to Control Lambsquarters Weed?

Lambsquarter is an aptly named weed, as its prolific seed production has made it one of the most widespread and enduring weeds in gardens. Seeds germinate during the spring and summer months and continue to do so for the remainder of the growing season. Late summer and early fall bring an abundance of floral blooms, followed by an astounding 72,000 viable seeds—which can remain dormant in the soil for up to 20 years!

There are various methods for controlling Lambsquarters weed, including cultural, mechanical, and chemical methods. Here are some of the most effective ways to control this problematic weed:

1) Cultural Methods

Maintaining a healthy and vigorous lawn or garden is one of the most efficient ways of controlling lambsquarters weed. This can be achieved by ensuring that the soil is well-drained and rich in organic matter. Adding compost or other organic matter to the soil can help to improve its structure and fertility, which in turn can promote healthy plant growth and discourage the growth of weeds.

Proper watering and fertilization practices are also important for maintaining a healthy lawn or garden. Over-watering or under-watering can stress plants and create conditions that are favorable for the growth of weeds. Similarly, over-fertilization can promote excessive growth, making plants more vulnerable to weed infestations. It is important to follow appropriate guidelines for watering and fertilizing plants and to avoid overuse of chemical fertilizers.

2) Mechanical Methods

Hand-pulling or hoeing can be effective in controlling small infestations of Lambsquarters weed. This method is most effective when the plants are young and have not yet produced seeds. When hand-pulling, be sure to remove the entire plant, including the roots, to prevent regrowth.

For larger infestations, hoeing or tilling can be effective in removing the plants and disrupting the soil, which can prevent the growth of new weeds.

Hand pulling and hoeing are the most effective methods, as lambs’ quarter root systems are usually shallow. However, be cautious with this method as it can also disrupt the soil ecosystem and can be harmful to beneficial microorganisms.

3) Mulching

Applying a layer of mulch around plants can help to suppress the growth of lambsquarters weed by blocking out the light and preventing the germination of new seeds. Organic mulches, such as shredded leaves or straw, are best for this purpose as they can also improve soil health and fertility over time. Mulching can also help to conserve moisture and reduce soil erosion.

4) Chemical Methods

Herbicides can be effective in controlling larger infestations of Lambsquarters weed. The most effective herbicides for controlling this weed are those that contain glyphosate or 2,4-D. Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide that kills all types of plants, while 2,4-D is a selective herbicide that targets broadleaf weeds like Lambsquarters. When using herbicides, make sure to follow all instructions on the label and take appropriate safety precautions, such as wearing protective clothing and avoiding contact with the skin or eyes.

Here, you should note that while chemical methods can be effective, they should be used as a last resort and only after other methods have been tried. Chemical herbicides have the potential to harm the environment as well as beneficial plants and insects; therefore they should be used with prudence.

It is important to note that prevention is the best method for controlling Lambsquarters weed. This includes maintaining a healthy lawn or garden, keeping an eye out for symptoms of infestation, and promptly removing any plants before they can produce seeds. By taking proactive steps to prevent the spread of this weed, you can help to keep your lawn or garden healthy and free of unwanted weeds.

How to Identify Lambsquarters Weed?

The first step in successfully getting rid of this troublesome weed is to identify Lambsquarter (Chenopodium album) on one’s lawn or garden. Here are some guidelines for determining Lambsquarters weed:

1) Height of the Plant

Depending on the environmental conditions and the maturity of the plant, Lambsquarters can grow anywhere from a few inches to around five feet (1.5 m.) tall.

2) Leaves

Its young seedlings have green leaves with a bluish hue on top and maroon undersides; clear, shiny granules further adorn the foliage. As the plant matures, its oblong or lancet-shaped leaves turn pale gray-green and fold up along their central veins. These leaves eventually become wavy or slightly toothed at the edges. These are arranged alternately on the stem.

3) Stem    

Lambsquarters weed possesses a single stem that may be accompanied by a few rigid side stems—which are often marked with red striations.

4) Flowers 

Throughout the summer months, small yellow-green flowers bloom in clusters at the end of these stems.

5) Seeds

The seeds of lambsquarters weed are small, black, and produced in large quantities (up to 75,000 per plant). The seeds are often found at the tips of the branches.

By being able to identify these distinguishing features, gardeners can effectively identify (or recognize) and address this intrusive weed in their lawn or garden. 

Where is Common Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album) a problem? 

Common lambsquarters is a ubiquitous weed that is native to Europe but has been found in North America dating back as far as pre-European times. This weed is a problem in many regions of the United States and is found in a variety of settings, including agricultural fields, horticultural crops, gardens, wastelands, and disturbed sites. It is highly adaptable and can thrive on both acid and basic soils, making it pervasive throughout the country.

Lambsquarters weed is especially problematic in areas where it has developed resistance to certain herbicides. Since 1975, this weed has been known to be resistant to certain herbicides like atrazine, which is used to control many types of weeds. In recent years, there have been cases of resistance to Group 2 ALS inhibitors, which are another type of herbicide commonly used to control weeds.

Furthermore, this weed is a prolific seed producer, with a single plant capable of producing thousands of seeds. These seeds can remain viable in the soil for several years and can germinate between 0.5 and 3 cm below the soil’s surface. This makes it difficult to control and further increases its spread.

Lambs quarters weed can also outcompete other plants for resources like water, nutrients, and light, which reduces biodiversity and lowers crop yields. As such, it is important to take measures to control its spread in affected areas to prevent economic and ecological damage.

What Are The Edible Uses of Lambsquarters Weed?

Edible Uses of Lambsquarter Weed

Lambs quarters, commonly referred to as wild spinach or goosefoot, is widespread throughout the world. Although it is considered a nuisance weed by many gardeners and farmers, it is actually edible and nutritious. Here are some edible uses of lambsquarters weed:

1) Salad greens

The young leaves of lambs quarters can be used in salads as a substitute for spinach or lettuce. They make a wonderful complement to fresh salads because of their mild flavor and soft texture.

2) Sauteed or stir-fried

Lambsquarters leaves can be sautéed or stir-fried with other vegetables. The leaves are cooked in oil in a pan until they are wilted. To improve the flavor, you can season them with herbs, spices, and a pinch of salt.

3) Soups and stews

As a nutritious green, lambs quarters can be added to soups and stews. Simply cut the leaves and incorporate them into your preferred stew or soup recipe. They will cook down and add a unique flavor to the dish.

4) Smoothies

To add more nutrients, you can blend its leaves into green smoothies. You can also combine them with fruits, yogurt, or other greens to create a refreshing and healthy beverage.

5) Pesto

Lambsquarters can be used in place of basil for making pesto. To make a tasty and vibrant pesto sauce, blend the leaves with garlic, nuts (such as pine nuts or walnuts), olive oil, and Parmesan cheese

6) Omelets and quiches

Lambsquarters can be creatively incorporated into omelets and quiches by lightly sautéing them and adding them to beaten eggs along with other ingredients. This will give your food a healthy boost.

7) Wraps or rolls

You can add a special touch to your meals by using its leaves as a wrapper for fillings, such as a substitute for tortillas or wraps. For a healthy and flavorful meal option, you can fill the leaves with a variety of ingredients like vegetables, hummus, or grilled meats.

It’s important to note that when foraging for lambsquarters, you should correctly identify the plant and gather it from areas that haven’t been treated with pesticides or other harmful chemicals. Also, avoid consuming lambs quarters from areas near roadsides where pollution may have contaminated the plants.

What Are The Medicinal Uses of Lambsquarters Plant (Chenopodium album)?

Lambsquarter weed has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. It is a nutritious green that is packed with essential vitamins and minerals, such as phosphorus, manganese, zinc, iron, and magnesium. It is known to lessen inflammation, fight off infections, and assist regulate the digestive system. Additionally, it can be used topically to treat skin irritations such as rashes, eczema, and insect bites. The plant contains anti-inflammatory compounds that could help lessen swelling and redness while accelerating healing.

Overall, while more research is needed to fully understand the medicinal properties of lambsquarters weed, it has a long history of traditional use for various health issues. Ancient cultures have also been known to use this plant as a natural remedy for fevers, colds, flu, and headaches.

Lambsquarter weed has grown to be a much-desired plant in herbal medicine as modern study explores its variety of uses. However, it is important to note that any medicinal use should be discussed with a healthcare professional, as the plant can have side effects and may interact with certain medications.

What is The Emergence Pattern of Lambsquarters Weed (Chenopodium album )?

Lambsquarters weed (Chenopodium album) is an annual plant that germinates in the spring and summer months. The timing of emergence can vary depending on location and environmental conditions, but generally, this plant will emerge when soil temperatures reach around 55°F (12°C). On the other hand, warm soils tend to impede the process.

This weed has a high germination rate and can produce a large number of seeds, which can remain viable in the soil for several years. The seeds usually germinate in the top 1-2 inches of soil, but they can emerge from deeper layers as well, especially following soil disturbance. This means that cultivating or tilling the soil can actually boost lambsquarters emergence by bringing seeds closer to the surface.

Once lambsquarters plants emerge, they grow quickly and can reach up to 6 feet tall. The plants produce long, narrow leaves that are green or purple in color, and small, inconspicuous flowers that range in color from greenish-white to reddish-brown. The seeds are small, black, or brown, and produced in large quantities, making it easy for the plant to spread and establish itself in new areas.

Life Cycle of Lambsquarters Weed (Chenopodium album)

As an annual plant, lambsquarters weed (Chenopodium album) completes its entire life cycle in a single year. It is important to note that factors like temperature, moisture content, and the availability of light can affect the life cycle of this weed.

The development of efficient control strategies to prevent the spread of lambsquarters weed can be aided by an understanding of its life cycle. The life cycle of this weed can be into divided following stages:

1) Seed Germination

Lambsquarters weed seeds can germinate throughout the growing season but typically occur from early spring to late summer when soil moisture and temperatures are favorable.

2) Seedling Stage

After germination, Lambsquarters weed begins to grow as a seedling by producing a small cotyledon (seed leaf), which is followed by true leaves. The leaves of this plant are oval or triangular in shape and have toothed margins.

3) Vegetative Growth

During this stage, lambsquarters weed continues to grow and produce leaves, stems, and roots. The plant can reach a height of up to 6 feet and produce thousands of seeds.

4) Flowering and Seed Production

In late summer or early fall, lambsquarters weed produces small, greenish flowers that are clustered in tight spikes at the top of the plant. The flowers are followed by small, round seedpods that contain numerous black or brown seeds. Up to 75,000 seeds can be produced by each plant.

5) Senescence and Death

After producing seeds, the plant gradually dies back and the seeds are dispersed by wind, water, animals, and human activity.

So, with this, we have discussed everything you need to know about Lambsquarters weed. Hope you enjoyed reading this article.

Frequently Asked Questions about lambs quarters weed

Is lambsquarters weed edible?

Yes, this weed is edible and can be used as a nutritious food source. The seeds of this plant can be ground into flour, and the leaves can be eaten fresh or cooked like spinach.

How can I control lambsquarters weed in my garden?

There are several methods to control this weed in your garden, including hand-pulling, hoeing, mulching, and using herbicides. To prevent this weed from spreading, eradicate it before it goes to seed.

Is lambsquarters weed harmful to humans or animals?

No, this weed is not harmful to humans or animals. In fact, it has been used as a food and medicinal plant for ages. However, due to the presence of oxalates, it may cause skin irritation in some people. Ingesting large quantities of the plant may also cause gastrointestinal upset in humans and pets.

Is lambsquarters weed invasive?

Lambsquarters weed is generally not classified as invasive even though it is considered a weed in agricultural settings. It is a common weed found in North America and other regions of the world.

Can lambsquarters weed be composted?

Yes, this weed can be composted. However, it’s important to make sure that the weed has not gone to seed, as the seeds may still be viable and can potentially spread to other areas when the compost is used.

Is there a difference between lambsquarters and quinoa?

Lambsquarters and quinoa are both members of the Chenopodium genus, but they are different species. In contrast to lambs quarters, which is regarded as a weed that grows in various kinds of habitats, quinoa is a crop that is farmed for its delicious seeds.

What Are Other Common Names of Lambsquarters?

It is also commonly known by other names like melde, goosefoot, lamb’s quarters, white goosefoot, and bathua.

Are there any companion plants that can help to deter lambsquarters weed?

There are no companion plants that specifically deter lambsquarters weed, however, planting a diverse range of plants in your garden can help to reduce the likelihood of weed growth overall. Crop rotation can also help to disrupt the weed’s life cycle and prevent it from becoming established in the soil.

How can I prevent lambsquarters weed from growing in my garden?

To prevent lambsquarters weed from growing in your garden, it is essential to maintain good garden hygiene. This includes:

  • Removing weeds as soon as you see them
  • Avoiding overwatering
  • Ensuring adequate spacing between plants to prevent competition for resources

Using a pre-emergent herbicide can also help to prevent the seeds from germinating in the first place.

Why is it called lambs quarters?

The common name “lambsquarters” is believed to have originated from the shape of the leaves, which are said to resemble the shape of a lamb’s quarter or foot. The term “quarter” may have been used to refer to a small or insignificant amount, suggesting that the leaves were not considered to be very valuable as food or medicine.

Another theory is that the name “lambsquarters” is a mispronunciation of the plant’s Latin name, Chenopodium album, which means “white goosefoot”  and refers to the shape of the plant’s leaves.

What does lambsquarters taste like?

Lambs quarters, commonly referred to as wild spinach, has a flavor that is mild and slightly nutty, much like spinach or chard. It can be consumed either raw or cooked, and its young leaves are often used in salads or as a substitute for spinach in recipes. Its older leaves and stems can be cooked like spinach or used in soups and stews.

Do lambsquarters flower?

Yes, lambs quarters (Chenopodium album) do flower. They produce small, greenish-white, or reddish-brown flowers that are not very showy. The flowers are produced in dense clusters called panicles, which grow from the leaf axils at the top of the stem. The plants normally begin to flower in the mid-summer and continue to produce seeds until the fall. The plant produces a lot of tiny, black or brown seeds when it blooms, which can contribute to the plant’s ability to spread and persist in the landscape.

What is lambs quarters allergy?

Lambsquarters can cause allergic reactions in certain people. The allergy is usually caused by inhaling the pollen of the plant. Its symptoms may include:

  • Itchy or watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Difficulty breathing

In rare cases, people may develop an allergic skin reaction after coming into contact with the plant. It is advisable to avoid contact with lambsquarters if you think you may be allergic to the plant, and consult with your healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Can pigs eat lambsquarters?

Yes, pigs can eat lambs quarters, and it is considered nutritious forage for them. In fact, this weed is sometimes grown as a forage crop for livestock.

However, you should note one thing that some species of livestock, such as horses, can be sensitive to oxalates present in this plant. Thus, it is recommended to gradually integrate lambs quarters into any animal’s diet and to consult with a veterinarian or livestock nutritionist before making any large dietary adjustments to their diet. Also, this plant should not be fed to animals if it has been treated with herbicides.


1) Common lambsquarters  (Chenopodium album)

2) Common Lambsquarters (Chenopodium album L.) – Weeds


4) Common Lambsquarters | Cornell Weed Identification

5) Common Lambsquarters – Weed of the Week

6) Common Lambsquarters – USU Extension

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