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Manual of the New Zealand Flora.

2. Chenopodium, Linn

2. Chenopodium, Linn.

Annual or perennial erect or prostrate herbs, rarely woody at the base, mealy or glandular-pubescent, seldom glabrous. Leaves alternate, entire or lobed or toothed. Flowers minute, greenish, usually hermaphrodite, sessile in clusters; clusters axillary or in terminal spikes or panicles. Perianth 5-partite, rarely 3–4-partite; segments obtuse, incurved and concave, not at all of very slightly altered in fruit. Stamens 5 or fewer; filaments filiform or flattened, sometimes connate at the base. Ovary depressed or ovoid, styles 2–3, free or united at the base. Fruit an ovoid or depressed membranous utricle, wholly or partially included in the persistent perianth. Seed horizontal or vertical; testa crustaceous; embryo annular, enclosing the copious mealy albumen.

A widely distributed genus of from 50 to 60 species, most abundant in temperate climates. Of those described below, three are common in many parts of the world as weeds of cultivation or wayside plants, and may not be true natives of New Zealand.

* Seed horizontal (rarely vertical in C. glaucum).

Intensely fœtid, prostrate or decumbent, mealy-pulverulent. Leaves ⅙–½ in., triangular-hastate, entire. Flowers in small dense axillary clusters 1. C. detestans.
Prostrate or trailing, often glaucous, mealy-pulverulent. Leaves ¼–1 in., triangular - oblong or hastate, entire. Flowers in lax axillary or terminal spikes or panicles 2. C. triandrum.
Prostrate, fleshy. Leaves ½–1½ in., oblong or deltoid, sinuate-lobed, mealy beneath. Flowers in axillary or terminal spikes 3. C. glaucum.
Erect or spreading, green or slightly mealy. Leaves ¾–1½ in., triangular or rhomboid, toothed or lobed. Flowers in axillary or terminal spikes or panicles 4. C. urbicum.
Erect, aromatic, glandular-pubescent, not mealy. Leaves l-4 in., ovate-lanceolate, sinuate-toothed. Flowers very numerous, in slender axillary spikes 5. C. ambrosioides.

** Seed vertical.

Glandular-pubescent. Stems 6–18 in., decumbent below, erect above. Leaves ¼–¾ in., oblong, sinuate-lobed or pinnatifid. Flowers in.dense axillary fascicles 6. C. carinatum.
Small, glandular-pubescent, much branched, prostrate, 2–6 in. long. Leaves 1/10–⅓ in., broadly oblong or orbicular, obscurely sinuate. Flowers in axillary glomerules 7. C. pusillum.

C. detestans, T. Kirk in Trans. N.Z. Inst. ix. (1877) 550.— A much-branched prostrate or decumbent herb, more or less clothed with a whitish granular meal, and with a strong and offensive page 580odour of stale fish; branches numerous from the root, slender, spreading, 6–18 in. long. Leaves on slender petioles; blade ⅙–½ in. long, rarely more, triangular-hastate or rhomboid-ovate, acute, cuneate at the base, entire or with a single tooth on each side. Flowers small, abundantly produced, in dense oblong or globose axillary fascicles, often becoming leafy spikes at the tips of the branches. Perianth-segments 4 or 5, oblong, obtuse, membranous, not completely concealing the fruit. Stamens usually 4. Utricle small, horizontal, depressed, brownish-black, minutely punctulate.

South Island: Canterbury—Broken River Basin, Enys! Kirk! T, F. C.; Lake Coleridge, Enys! Otago—Lakes Wanaka and Hawea, Kirk! Petrie! Maniototo Plain, Cromwell, and other localities in the north and central portions of the province, Petrie! 1000–3000 ft. January–March.

Closely allied to the northern C. vulvaria, Linn., but a smaller plant with smaller often hastate leaves, and with the flowers in dense globose fascicles.


C. triandrum, Forst. Prodr. n. 129.—A much-branched prostrate or trailing herb, pale-green, glabrous or more or less mealy-tomentose; stems slender, 6–18 in. long, sometimes almost woody at the base. Leaves opposite or alternate, petiolate, ¼–1 in. long, very variable in shape, broadly oblong or orbicular to broadly triangular-hastate, obtuse or rounded at the tip, cuneate or rounded or truncate at the base, thin and membranous, green and glabrous or slightly mealy; petioles slender. Flowers very minute, farinose, in axillary or terminal lax-flowered spikes or panicles. Perianth-segments 4, oblong, obtuse. Stamens 2–4. Styles 2–3. Utricle depressed, more or less covered by the persistent perianth. Seed horizontal, minutely punctate, adherent to the utricle.—A. Rich. Fl. Nouv. Zel. 180; A. Cunn. Precur. n. 361; Raoul, Choix, 43; Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel, i. 212; Handb. N.Z. Fl. 230.

North and South islands: From the North Cape southwards to Foveaux Strait, not uncommon near the sea, rare and local inland. November–March.


C. glaucum, Linn. Sp. Plant. 220.—A much-branched prostrate fleshy and succulent annual herb; branches widely spreading, flaccid, glabrous, striate, 4–18 in. long, rarely ascending at the tips. Leaves petiolate, the lower ones ½–1½ in. long, oblong-lanceolate to ovate-oblong or rhomboid, usually obtuse at the tip, cuneate at the base, coarsely and angularly sinuate - toothed or -lobed, fleshy when fresh, thin when dry, green and glabrous above, white with mealy down beneath; upper ones smaller and narrower and more entire. Flowers small, in little clusters arranged in simple or compound axillary or terminal spikes, which are usually more or less farinose. Fruiting-perianth 3–5-partite; segments short, obtuse, appressed to the fruit but not altogether concealing it. Seed horizontal or occasionally vertical, smooth, margins obtuse. page 581A. Cunn. Precur. n. 363; Raoul. Choix, 43; Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 213; Handb. N.Z. Fl. 230; Benth. Fl. Austral. v. 161. C. am-biguum, R. Br. Prodr. 407.

North and South Islands, Stewart Island: Common throughout in muddy or sandy places near the sea, also occasionally found in saline localities inland. November–March.

Also occurs in Australia and Tasmania, and common in many parts of Europe and temperate Asia, &c. The New Zealand and Australian plant is sometimes kept as a separate variety or species (C. ambiguum, R. Br.), but the differences appear to be slight and inconstant.


C. urbicum, Linn. Sp. Plant. 218.—A coarse erect or spreading branching herb 1–2 ft. high or more, green and glabrous or rarely slightly mealy; stem angled, grooved. Lower leaves on slender petioles ½–1 in. long; blade ¾–1½ in., triangular or rhombic-ovate, coarsely and irregularly toothed and lobed, rather thin, green on both surfaces, veined; upper smaller, narrower, more acute. Flowers small, in little clusters arranged in dense leafless axillary spikes, or in terminal panicles which are leafy below. Stamens 5, exserted. Styles short. Fruiting-perianth 1/15 in. diam.; segments obtuse, not completely covering the utricle. Seed horizontal, much depressed, minutely punctulate, margins obtuse.— Hook.f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 213; Handb. N.Z. Fl. 230.

North Island: East Coast, Colenso! Has also appeared as a naturalised plant near Wellington. South Island: Not uncommon, especially in South Canterbury and Otago. Sea-level to 1000 ft. December–March.

A common European weed, which has become naturalised in North America and some other countries. It is probably not a true native of New Zealand.


C. ambrosioides, Linn. Sp. Plant. 219.—An erect much-branched strong-smelling glandular annual herb 1–3 ft. high; branches slender, strict, leafy. Leaves shortly petiolate, 1–4 in. long, ovate- or oblong-lanceolate to lanceolate, acute or acuminate, cuneate at the base, coarsely sinuate-toothed or -lobed, membranous, glabrous or pubescent, green, not mealy; upper ones gradually smaller, linear-lanceolate, entire or nearly so. Flowers exceedingly numerous, very minute, in little clusters in slender axillary often elongated spikes, frequently so copiously produced as to render the upper portion of the plant a large leafy panicle. Stamens 5. Styles 3–4, elongate. Fruiting-perianth about 1/25 in. diam., segments closed over the fruit and completely enclosing it. Seed horizontal or rarely vertical, smooth, polished, shining, margins obtuse.— Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 213; Handb. N.Z. Fl. 230; Benth. Fl. Austral. v. 162.

North Island: Warm lowland stations from the North Cape to Taranaki and Hawke's Bay, not common. Has also appeared as a naturalised plant near Wellington. December–April.

page 582

Easily distinguished by the erect glabrous habit, strong aromatic smell, large comparatively narrow leaves, and long slender spikes of very small flowers. It is widely distributed in many warm climates.


C. carinatum, R. Br. Prodr. 407.—A much-branched strong-smelling glandular-pubescent herb; stems usually decumbent at the base, erect or ascending above, 6–18 in. long. Leaves on slender petioles; blade variable in size, ¼–¾ in. long or more, oblong-lanceolate to oblong or ovate-oblong, obtuse, cuneate at the base, sinuate-lobed or -pinnatifid, rather thick, both surfaces rough with glandular pubescence. Flowers small, very copiously produced, in dense glomerules occupying almost all the axiis, sometimes elongated into short leafy spikes. Perianth-segments 5, erect, incurved over the fruit, more or less glandular-pubescent. Stamen usually 1. Utricle small, compressed, erect, the pericarp adherent to the seed.—Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 213; Handb. N.Z. Fl. 231; Benth. Fl. Austral. v. 162. C. botrys, A. Cunn. Precur. n. 362 (not of Linn.). Blitum carinatum and B. glandulosum, Moq. in D.C. Prodr. xiii. ii. 81, 82.

North and South Islands: Warm dry soils from the North Cape to central Otago, rare and local. December–March.

A common Australian plant. It was collected at the Bay of Islands by Cunningham, and may be truly native in the North Auckland peninsula. Elsewhere it is doubtless naturalised.


C. pusillum, Hook. f. Handb. N.Z. Fl. 231. —A much-branched decumbent or prostrate glandular-pubescent little plant; branches spreading on all sides, 2–6 in. long, slender, leafy, ascending at the tips. Leaves on slender petioles; blade very variable in size, 1/10–⅓ in. diam. or more, broadly oblong to ovate-oblong or orbicular, rounded at the tip, quite entire or obscurely sinuate, rather thin, both surfaces glandular-pubescent, veins prominent beneath. Flowers very minute, in small and dense few- or many-flowered axillary glomerules. Perianth-segments usually 4, erect, linear-oblong, concave, membranous, pubescent, incurved over the fruit but not completely concealing it. Stamen usually 1. Utricle small, erect, ovate, compressed, the pericarp not adhering to the seed.—C. pumilio, Hook. f. Fl. Nov. Zel. i. 214 (not of R. Br.).

North Island: Sandy shores of the East Coast and Lake Taupo, Colenso! South Island: Near Nelson, Captain F. W. Hutton! Lake Lyndon (Canterbury), Enys! Kirk! T. F. C. Sea-level to 2500 ft.

I have had no opportunity of comparing this with the closely allied C. purnilio, R. Br., from Australia. According to Hooker, it is mainly distinguished by the membranous perianth-segments.