Family: Goosefoot [Amaranthaceae]


Alternanthera

Amaranthus

Atriplex

Axyris

Bassia

Beta

Celosia

Chenopodium

Corispermum

Cycloloma

Dysphania

Monolepis

Salicornia

Salsola

Sarcocornia

Spinacia

Suaeda

The Goosefoot family are mostly opportunist annual flowers occupying bare or un-cultivated ground, with between 3 to 5 bracteoles, male and female separate. On a leafless spike a tight cluster of usually small greenish-brown petal-less flowers resides. The leaves are usually un-toothed.

The three most frequent species are common amaranth, green amaranth and white pigweed, but 27 others have been recorded. Love-lies-bleeding is a well known garden plant that has escaped into the wild.

Taxonomic authorities cannot agree on whether the Goosefoot Family [Chenopodiaceae] should be subsumed into The Amaranthaceae Family, or not, but here it has been!

The Amaranthaceae family (and Chenopodiaceae if taxonomists decide not to put that in with the Amaranthaceae family) are all salt-tolerant species and they exhibit both C3 and the more efficient process C4 type photosynthesis. Another 13 families including Euphorbiaceae and grasses, Poaceae, are also C4 photosynthetic (making 15 families which are C4 photosynthetic altogether). Of those, only Euphorbiaceae have all three types of photosynthesis (C3 and C4 and C3+C4) within their numerous species.



[SALICORNIA] Glassworts

Common Glasswort. (Salicornia europaea) Photo: © RWD



[BETA] Beets

Beets were formerly placed in the Goosefoot Family (Chenopodiaceae), but have since been moved into the Amaranthaceae. Beets, especially Beta vulgaris and the sub-species Beta vulgaris ssp. vulgaris include many cultivated varieties of specially-bred and grown vegetables, such as Beetroot, Mangelwurzle, Sugar Beet, Swiss Chard and Spinach Beet, but they are all segregated into 5 Cultivar-Groups of Beta vulgaris ssp. vulgaris, namely:

  • Altissima-Group - to which Sugar Beet belongs.
  • Cicla-Group to which Spinach Beet aka Chard belong (including Ruby Chard and other Chards with thickened midribs sometimes grown in gardens for ornament)
  • Flavescens-Group to which Swiss Chard belongs. Those Swiss Chards with thickened stems are thought to have arisen from mutations in Spinach Beet - which is in the Cicla-Group.
  • Conditiva-Group to which Beetroot belongs
  • Crassa-Group to which Mangel-wurzel belongs.

Sea Beet. (Beta vulgaris ssp. maritima) Photo: © RWD

Mangel-wurzel & Sugar Beet (Beta vulgaris ssp. vulgaris) Photo: © RWD

Chard (Beta vulgaris ssp. vulgaris) Photo: © RWD



[SUAEDA] Sea-blites

Annual Sea-blite (Suaeda maritima) Photo: © RWD



[ATRIPLEX] Oraches

There are two major complications to differentiating between the differing Orache plants, the first being that there is great variation (or plasticity) both in physical form and in genetic make-up of any one single species. The second is their great propensity to hybridize between (only some) species of Atriplex, and unlike first or second generation hybrids, generate hybrid derivatives which are self-fertile and proliferate. Genetically differing morphs exist for several of the species differing in leaf-shape, habit or colour, each genetically distinct. Morphological changes can also occur in response to environmental factors such as soil-type, pH, salinity, etc and all gang up against positive identification.

That being said, with care it is possible for experts to identify many hybrids which occur in the British Isles with reasonable certainty.

Oraches are usually Unisexual, with separate male and female flowers on the same plant. The male flowers are tiny, about 2mm across with 5 tepals (rather than any petals) and 5 stamens. The female flowers usually have no tepals (or petals!) but two expanding and growing bracteoles either side of the growing fruit until they encompass it. For photos of the flowers of Orache readers will have to look at Babington's Orache, the only one he has yet seen in flower (you have to get very close).

 

ORACHE HYBRID CHART (shrunk)
Hybrid Chart: ORACHES (larger)

Although the BSBI map database does not seem to mention them (and similarly neither does the derivative hybrid chart above), apparently hybrids occur between ALL [except for Frosted Orache (Atriplex laciniata)] species of Atriplex - perhaps because the unmentioned other hybrids are either so rare, or that very few folk are willing or able to identify them in the field... (?).

Atriplex SPECIES LACKING HYBRIDS
(Atriplex halimus) Shrubby Orache
(Atriplex hortensis) Garden Orache
(Atriplex laciniata) Frosted Orache
(Atriplex pedunculata) Pedunculate Sea-purslane
(Atriplex portulacoides) Sea Purslane
(Atriplex sagittata)
(Atriplex spongiosa)
(Atriplex suberecta) Australian Orache
(Atriplex tatarica)

Grass-Leaved Orache (Atriplex littoralis) Photo: © RWD

Babington's Orache (Atriplex glabriuscula) Photo: © RWD

Long-Stalked Orache (Atriplex longipes) Photo: © RWD

Spear-Leaved Orache (Atriplex prostrata) Photo: © RWD

Atriplex × hulmeana (Atriplex prostrata × littoralis) Photo: © RWD

Kattegat Orache (Atriplex × gustafssoniana) Photo: © RWD



[CHENOPODIUM] Goosefoots

The Chenopodium genera is sub-divided into 6 sections each with their own characteristic physical features:

Section 1 - BLITUM containing only Strawberry Blite (Chenopodium capitatum) - not a fungus but an edible non-native plant.

Section 2 - RHAGODIOIDES containing just Nitre Goosefoot (Chenopodium nitrariaceum)

Section 3 - AGATHOPHYTON containing Good-king-henry (Chenopodium bonus-henricus)

Section 4 - GLAUCA containing just Oak-leaved Goosefoot (Chenopodium glaucum)

Section 5 - PSEUDOBLITUM containing:
Red Goosefoot (Chenopdium rubrum)

Saltmarsh Goosefoot (Chenopodium chenopodioides)

Section 6 - CHENODODIUM containing:
Many-seeded Goosefoot (Chenopodium polyspermum)
Stinking Goosefoot (Chenopodium vulvaria)
Maple-leaved Goosefoot (Chenopodium hybridum
Upright Goosefoot (Chenopodium urbicum)
Nettle-leaved Goosefoot (Chenopodium murale)
Slimleaf Goosefoot (Chenopodium pratericola)
Fig-leaved Goosefoot (Chenopodium ficifolium)
Goosefoot (Chenopodium)
Foetid Goosefoot (Chenopodium hircinum)
Pitseed Goosefoot (Chenopodium berlandieri)
Soyabean Goosefoot (Chenopodium bushianum)
Quinoa Goosefoot (Chenopodium quinoa)
Grey Goosefoot (Chenopodium opulifolium)
Fat-hen (Chenopodium album)
Striped Goosefoot (Chenopodium strictum)
Swedish Goosefoot (Chenopodium suecicum)
Probst's Goosefoot (Chenopodium probstii)
Tree Spinach (Chenopodium giganteum)

 

[Chenopodium]
GOOSEFOOT HYBRID CHART
[Chenopodium]
GOOSEFOOT
HYBRIDS
BSBI MAPS
Fat-hen
(album)
Pitseed
Goosefoot

(berlandieri)
Fig-leaved
Goosefoot

(ficifolium)
Grey
Goosefoot

(opulifolium)
Grey
Goosefoot

(opulifolium)
Chenopodium
×
preissmannii
   
Fig-leaved
Goosefoot

(ficifolium)
Chenopodium
×
zahnii
   
Pitseed
Goosefoot

(berlandieri)
Chenopodium
×
variabile
   
Fat-hen
(album)
Chenopodium
×
variabile
Chenopodium
×
zahnii
Chenopodium
×
preissmannii

Chenopodium SPECIES LACKING HYBRIDS
(Chenopodium aristatum) Wormseed
(Chenopodium bonus-henricus) Good-King-Henry
(Chenopodium botrys)
(Chenopodium bushianum) Soyabean Goosefoot
(Chenopodium capitatum) Strawberry-blite
(Chenopodium chenopodioides) Saltmarsh Goosefoot
(Chenopodium detestans)
(Chenopodium foliosum)
(Chenopodium giganteum) Tree Spinach
(Chenopodium glaucum) Oak-leaved Goosefoot
(Chenopodium hircinum) Foetid Goosefoot
(Chenopodium hybridum) Maple-leaved Goosfoot
(Chenopodium leptophyllum) Narrowleaf goosefoot
(Chenopodium murale) Nettle-leaved Goosefoot
(Chenopodium nitrariaceum) Nitre Goosefoot
(Chenopodium polyspermum) Many-seeded Goosefoot
(Chenopodium pratericola) Slimleaf Goosefoot
(Chenopodium probstii) Probst's Goosefoot
(Chenopodium procerum)
(Chenopodium quinoa) Quinoa
(Chenopodium rubrum) Red Goosefoot
(Chenopodium schraderianum) Schrader's goosefoot
(Chenopodium strictum) Striped Goosefoot
(Chenopodium suecicum) Swedish Goosefoot
(Chenopodium urbicum) Upright Goosefoot
(Chenopodium vulvaria) Stinking Goosefoot

Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa) Photo: © RWD

Fat-Hen (Chenopodium album) Photo: © RWD

Good-king-Henry (Chenopodium bonus-henricus) Photo: © RWD



[DYSPHANIA] Keeled Goosefoots

 

[Dysphania]
KEELED GOOSEFOOT HYBRID CHART
[Dysphania]
KEELED GOOSEFOOT HYBRIDS
BSBI MAPS
Keeled
Goosefoot

(carinata)
Crested
Goosefoot

(cristata)
Crested
Goosefoot

(cristata)
Dysphania
×
bontei
Keeled
Goosefoot

(carinata)
Dysphania
×
bontei

Dysphania SPECIES LACKING HYBRIDS
(Dysphania ambrosioides) Mexican-tea
(Dysphania multifida) Scented Goosefoot
(Dysphania pumilio) Clammy Goosefoot



[SALSOLA] Saltworts

Prickly Saltwort (Salsola kali) Photo: © RWD

Family: Goosefoot [Amaranthaceae]

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