Jerusalem Oak (Chenopodium botrys)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Jerusalem Oak
Chenopodium botrys
Chenopodiaceae

Gold/green dyes can be obtained from the whole plant[168].

The dried plant is a moth repellent. The aromatic and ornamental flower spikes are used[1, 74, 200].

The whole plant is very aromatic and is used as a scent in pillows, bags, baskets etc[207, 257].

  • Medicinal Use

    The plant is antiasthmatic. It is also used in the treatment of catarrh[145].

    The plant has been used as an anthelmintic as a substitute for C. ambrosioides[240, 257]. It contains 0.04% essential oil, but this oil does not contain the active ingredient ascaridol[240].

  • Edible Use

    Leaves – cooked[106, 177, 183]. A popular vegetable[105] (the report does not say where!). The raw leaves should only be eaten in small quantities, see the notes above on toxicity.

    Seed – cooked. It can be ground into a meal and used with flour in making bread etc[106, 177]. The seed is small and fiddly, it should be soaked in water overnight and thoroughly rinsed before it is used in order to remove any saponins.

    The leaves are a tea substitute[183].

  • Cautionary Notes

    The leaves and seeds of all members of this genus are more or less edible. However, many of the species in this genus contain saponins, though usually in quantities too small to do any harm. Although toxic, saponins are poorly absorbed by the body and most pass straight through without any problem. They are also broken down to a large extent in the cooking process. Saponins are found in many foods, such as some beans. Saponins are much more toxic to some creatures, such as fish, and hunting tribes have traditionally put large quantities of them in streams, lakes etc in order to stupefy or kill the fish[K]. The plants also contain some oxalic acid, which in large quantities can lock up some of the nutrients in the food. However, even considering this, they are very nutritious vegetables in reasonable quantities. Cooking the plants will reduce their content of oxalic acid. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition[238].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow spring in situ. Most of the seed usually germinates within a few days of sowing.
An easily grown plant, succeeding in most soils but disliking shade[1, 200]. It prefers a moderately fertile soil[200]. The Jerusalem oak is occasionally cultivated for its edible leaves, there is at least one named variety, developed in the Netherlands. ‘Green Magic’ is a cultivar with a delicious nutty flavour[183]. It can be harvested just 31 days after sowing[183]. The dried flower spikes are aromatic and ornamental[1, 200]. The leaves emit an agreeable aromatic smell when they are handled[245].
S. Europe to C. Asia.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.