Amaranthaceae (includes previous Chenopodiaceae) . . . . . Goosefoot family

A family of generally dull-coloured weedy plants that incorporates the previous Chenopodiaceae, and includes: Amaranthus (Pigweeds); Atriplex (Oraches); Beta (Beets); Chenopodium (& Oxybasis, Chenopodiastrum, Blitum (Goosefoots) - including the aliens in Dysphania); and saltmarsh genera such as Suaeda (Sea-blites), Salsola (Saltworts), Salicornia and Sarcocornia (Glassworts)

Many spp. very variable and difficult to distinguish; Although vegetatively similar, goosefoots (Chenopodium) and Oraches (Atriplex) can be separated in fruit as the latter have very characteristic triangular fruit

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Amaranthus . . . . . Pigweeds

As many as 30 spp. have been recorded in the BI and not easy to separate as variable and hybridise (depends on detailed examination of flowers and seeds); Three typical sample spp. are shown below


Amaranthus deflexus . . . Prostrate Pigweed

Rare casual in CI and S Br

Amaranthus retroflexus . . . Common Amaranth

Hairy annual, casual in waste places and arable land; scattered mainly in the S and CI

Amaranthus hybridus . . . Green Amaranth

A. hybridus has looser panicle & is +/- hairless while A. retroflexus has hairy stems and leaves (and translucent dots on lvs);

Atriplex . . . Oraches

More than 20 spp. have been recorded

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Atriplex prostrata
Atriplex glabriuscula
Atriplex patula
Atriplex laciniata


Atriplex littoralis
Atriplex halimus
Atriplex portulacoides

Atriplex glabriuscula . . . Babington's Orache

Usually forming large prostrate mats, often reddish, lvs nearly to end of flowering shoots; Common around the coasts

Atriplex halimus . . . Shrubby Orache

Shrubby plant - up to 2 m tall; local by the coast in CI and along S coast

Atriplex laciniata . . . Frosted Orache

On coasts around BI

Atriplex littoralis . . . Grass-leaved Orache

Narrow, slightly toothed leaves; Commonest in the E; on coasts but spreading inland along roads

Atriplex patula . . . Common Orache

Leaves with points swept forward; Waste ground throughout BI

Atriplex portulacoides . . . Sea Purslane

Similar to Atriplex halimus but smaller, prostrate; widespread on coasts N to S Sc

Atriplex prostrata . . . Spear-leaved Orache (= A. hastata)

Bottom leaves clearly have horizontal base (right angles to petiole), fruits split to near base


Among other spp. are: A. hortensis (Garden Orache - large elliptic papery bracteoles, scattered); A. pedunculata (Pedunculate Sea-purslane with long-stalked fruits, Essex); A. longipes (Long-stalked Orache - long-staked large fruits); A. praecox (Early Orache - usu. <10 cm and reddish, W Sc); A. suberecta (Australian Orache)

Beta . . . Beets

Beta vulgaris ssp. maritima . . . . Sea Beet

Very good to eat; thick succulent lvs; common close to the sea exc. N Sc

Beta vulgaris ssp. vulgaris . . . . Sugar Beet

A scattered relic of cultivation; swollen roots; thinner, larger lvs than sea beet (Beetroot is the same subsp.)

(Including Blitum, Chenopodium, Chenopodiastrum, Lipandra & Oxybasis) . . . . Goosefoots


Select nearest:

C. album
C. murale
C. ficifolium
O. rubra

L. polysperma
O. chenopodioides
C. quinoa
C. giganteum

C. hybridum
C. strictum

Blitum (was in Chenopodium) . . . Goosefoots

Key to goosefoots

Blitum bonus-henricus . . . . Good-King-Henry

Relatively large triangular leaves with wavy (not toothed) edges; scattered and locally common by farm buildings (NEEDED)

Also the rare casual: B. capitatum (Strawberry-blite)

Chenopodiastrum (was in Chenopodium) . . . Goosefoots

Key to goosefoots

Chenopodiastrum hybridum . . . Maple-leaved Goosefoot

Uncommon on arable and waste ground, esp in S Br & CI

Chenopodiastrum murale . . . Nettle-leaved Goosefoot

Common in CI and S En, more scattered to N

Chenopodium . . . Goosefoots

Key to goosefoots

Chenopodium album . . . . Fat-Hen

Common on waste and cultivated ground; variable, up to 1.5 m tall

See also C. strictum

Chenopodium ficifolium . . . Fig-leaved Goosefoot

Distinguished from C. glaucum (Oak-leaved goosefoot) by Local, casual mostly near the sea

Chenopodium giganteum . . . . Tree Spinach

Up to 2 m tall with much red-purple colouring

Chenopodium quinoa . . . . Quinoa

An increasingly planted crop that sometimes survives; sometimes has purple young lvs like C. giganteum

Chenopodium strictum . . . . Striped Goosefoot

Casual on tips and waste places, esp. in CI and S Br; similar to C. album but with striped stem and lvs

Lipandra (was in Chenopodium) . . . Many-seeded Goosefoot

Key to goosefoots

Lipandra polysperma . . . Many-seeded Goosefoot

Common in CI and S En, more scattered to N En; square (usually) red stems and untoothed oval lvs

Oxybasis (was in Chenopodium) . . . Goosefoots

Key to goosefoots

Oxybasis rubra (was Chenopodium rubrum) . . . Red Goosefoot

Common in the S decreasing to C Sc

Oxybasis chenopodioides . . . Saltmarsh Goosefoot

Locally common on coasts in CI and London area; usually prostrate, v. red +/- triangular lvs

Other spp. include the v local O. glauca

Salsola . . . Saltworts

Salsola kali . . . Prickly Saltwort

Beaches around the BI

Salicornia . . . Glasswort

A very variable group of succulent saltmarsh plants (and also the similar Sarcocornia), usually treated as three aggregate spp., though some have further divided them.


Salicornia europaea, agg. . . . Glasswort

Saltmarshes around all the coasts of BI; the last two pictures show Salicornia ramosissima which is rather rare and has been separated out by some

Suaeda . . . Seablites

Suaeda maritima . . . Annual Seablite

On saltmarshes around the coast

Suaeda vera . . . Shrubby Seablite

A woody plant, local on upper saltmarshes, mainly around the Wash and in Essex