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Genus Chenopodium Family Chenopodiaceae

Description: Annual to perennial herbs or shrubs, frequently with vesicular and/or glandular hairs, the vesicular hairs bursting early and forming a mealy surface.

Leaves alternate, entire or variously lobed or dissected; petiolate.

Inflorescence terminal and/or axillary, paniculate or cymose, frequently much reduced. Flowers bisexual or female, at least the terminal flower of any cluster usually bisexual. Perianth segments 3–5, free or variously fused. Stamens 5, or rarely 1–4, free or fused into a disc at the base. Stigmas 2–4.

Pericarp membranous, rarely succulent. Seed either falling free or enclosed in perianth.


Distribution and occurrence: World: c. 70 species, cosmopolitan. Australia: 24 species (10 species naturalized), all States.

Text by S. W. L. Jacobs
Taxon concept:

 Key to the species 
1Perennial shrubs, usually more than 50 cm high2
Annual or perennial herbs, or if shrubby, then less than 50 cm high5
2Plant glandular-pubescent, not `mealy'Chenopodium ambrosioides
Plant `mealy' with vesicular hairs
                       Back to 1
3
3Spinescent shrub with spathulate to linear leavesChenopodium nitrariaceum
Non-spiny shrubs; leaves elliptic to hastate
                       Back to 2
4
4Fruit succulent; leaves densely hairy, 1–15 mm longChenopodium curvispicatum
Fruit dry; leaves glabrescent above, mealy below, at least some more than 20 mm long
                       Back to 3
Chenopodium auricomum
5Leaves and stems mealy or glabrous, without glandular hairs6
Glandular hairs present on leaves and possibly stems
                       Back to 1
16
6Perianth either glabrous or slightly mealy and not shed with fruit7
Perianth mealy; perianth shed with the fruit enclosed
                       Back to 5
9
7Perianth glaucousChenopodium glaucum
Perianth slightly mealy
                       Back to 6
8
8Leaves with entire marginsChenopodium auricomiforme
Leaves with deeply incised margins
                       Back to 7
Chenopodium erosum
9Plants foetid10
Plants not foetid
                       Back to 6
12
10Perianth segments fused to near apexChenopodium vulvaria
Perianth segments fused only at base
                       Back to 9
11
11Stamens 1 or 2; leaves sparsely hairy, 3–10 cm longChenopodium detestans
Stamens 5; leaves densely hairy, c. 1 cm long
                       Back to 10
Chenopodium desertorum
12Leaves usually 20 mm long or less; margins entire13
Leaves, or at least the lower ones, more than 30 mm long, margins usually toothed
                       Back to 9
14
13Seeds reticulate; pericarp succulentChenopodium curvispicatum
Seeds smooth to slightly wrinkled, pericarp dry or succulent
                       Back to 12
Chenopodium desertorum
14Seed black, strongly patterned; leaves to 15 cm long, margins deeply incisedChenopodium erosum
Seed black to brownish, smooth or with minute or weakly developed pattern; leaves to 9 cm long, margins variously toothed
                       Back to 12
15
15Leaves usually mealy with vesicular hairs, especially on lower surface; seeds bluntly keeled, smooth to weakly furrowed, pericarp readily detachedChenopodium album
Leaves nearly glabrous, except when very young; seeds prominently keeled, finely pitted, pericarp persistent
                       Back to 14
Chenopodium murale
16Perennials; stamens 517
Annuals; stamens 1 or 2
                       Back to 5
18
17Seeds horizontal or oblique; fruiting perianth not pouch-likeChenopodium ambrosioides
Seeds vertical; fruiting perianth pouch-like
                       Back to 16
Chenopodium multifidum
18Perianth segments fused to near apexChenopodium truncatum
Perianth segments fused below halfway
                       Back to 16
19
19Perianth segments strongly crested with a fimbriate keelChenopodium cristatum
Perianth segments rounded to acute, if keeled then broadest above base and the keel not fimbriate
                       Back to 18
20
20Perianth segments fused in lower half, often darkChenopodium melanocarpum
Perianth segments fused only near base, usually light-coloured
                       Back to 19
21
21Perianth segments rounded on back, exposing fruit, especially belowChenopodium pumilio
Perianth segments keeled, at least towards apex, more or less covering the fruit
                       Back to 20
Chenopodium carinatum

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