Chenopodium rubrum (Red Goosefoot)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Amaranthaceae (Amaranth)
Life cycle:annual
Habitat:part shade, sun; moist soil; shores, river banks, salt marshes, mud flats, swales
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:4 to 24 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: OBL MW: OBL NCNE: OBL
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: indistinct Cluster type: panicle Cluster type: spike

[photo of flower clusters] Numerous tiny flowers are tightly packed in round clusters (glomerules) less than ¼ inch diameter in a spike-like arrangement at the top of the stem and along stalks up to 4 inches long arising from leaf axils. Flowers lack petals, have 2 or 3 short stamens and a round, green ovary with a 2-parted style at the tip. Cupping the flower is a green calyx with usually 3 lobes about 1 mm long, sometimes 4 lobes. Flowers are sometimes pinkish and often turn red with maturity.

[close-up of flower clusters] Bracts are leaf-like and numerous, the lower bracts similar to stem leaves, becoming more lance-linear above. The calyx, stalks and bracts are all smooth and hairless.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are alternate, ½ to 4 inches long, up to about 2½ inches wide, triangular to diamond-shaped in outline, irregularly lobed around the edge, the lobes usually narrow and rounded to pointed at the tip, the base wedge-shaped tapering to a short stalk.

[photo of leaf underside] Surfaces are hairless and smooth, without any white-mealy coating. Leaves are green but often become red-tinged with age. Stems are usually much branched, green and smooth, erect to ascending or occasionally prostrate.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed_without_plume

[photo of developing fruit] Fruit is a dry seed enclosed in the persistent ovary shell (pericarp) that matures from green to brown and loosely wraps the seed. Fruit in the glomerule is mostly arranged vertically with some horizontal. Seeds are oval to egg-shaped, .6 to 1.2 mm long, shiny dark reddish-brown and smooth.


Red Goosefoot, known in some references as Oxybasis rubra, is an annual found mostly in moist, disturbed soils such pond and lake shores, river and creek banks, and mud flats. It is distinguished from other Chenopodium species by leaves that are triangular to diamond-shaped in outline usually with a few to several narrow lobes around the edges, and lack any white-mealy coating on either surface. The flower or fruit clusters are also not white-mealy, the calyx has only 3(4) lobes, and flowering/fruiting clusters typically turn red with age and the leaves may become red-tinged as well. There are two recognized varieties, both of which have been found in Minnesota: var. rubrum is the more common with erect to ascending stems, vertical seeds rarely more than .8 mm long, and deeply lobed leaves; var. humile, only recorded once in Minnesota, has prostrate stems, vertical seeds .8 mm or more long, and shallowly lobed or unlobed leaves.

It is one of the easier Chenopodium species to identify. By comparison, other species may have leaves that are less deeply lobed or not lobed at all, are white-mealy on one or both leaf surfaces, are white-mealy in the flower and fruit clusters, have 5 calyx lobes, and/or seeds have a pitted or wrinkly texture on the surface.

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More photos

Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken at various locations across Minnesota.


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