Botanical name: Chenopodium album Family: Chenopodiaceae (Goosefoot family)
Bathua is a fast-growing, upright, weedy annual species of goosefoot, very common in temperate regions, growing almost everywhere in soils rich in nitrogen, especially on wasteland. Its pollen can contribute to hayfever-like allergies. It tends to grow upright at first, reaching heights of 30-80 cm, but typically becomes recumbent after flowering (due to the weight of the foliage and seeds) unless supported by other plants. The opposite leaves can be very varied in appearance. The first leaves, near the base of the plant, are toothed and roughly diamond-shaped, 3-7 cm long and 3-6 cm broad. The leaves on the upper part of the flowering stems are entire and lanceolate-rhomboid, 1-5 cm long and 0.4-2 cm broad. The leaves are waxy-coated, unwettable and mealy in appearance, with a whitish coat on the underside. The tiny flowers are radially symmetrical and grow in small cymes on a dense branched inflorescence 10-40 cm long. Bathua can be eaten as a vegetable, either steamed in entirety, or the leaves cooked like spinach as a leaf vegetable. Each plant produces tens of thousands of black seeds. These are very nutritious, high in protein, vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. As the english common name suggests, it is also a very good feed (both the leaves and the seeds) for chickens (hens) and other poultry.
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