Chenopodium album, L.

Brenan, J. P. M, 1954, Chenopodiaceae (part: Chenopodium), Flora of Tropical East Africa 12, pp. 2-14 : 6

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Chenopodium album


1. C. album L. View in CoL

Sp. PI. 219 (1753); Bak. & C. B. Cl. in F.T.A. 6 (1): 77 (1909), pro parte, quoad specimen Forbes s.n. tantum (= C. album f. cymigerum (Koch) Schinz & Thell .); Hauman in F.C.B. 2: 9 (1951).

Type: presumably from Europe, Herb. Linnaeus (LINN, lecto.!)

Herb usually 10-150 cm. high, annual, normally much branched but sometimes lateral branches short and stem thus appearing subsimple, green or red-tinged, especially on stem, more or less grey-mealy especially on young parts. Leaves very variable, rhombic-ovate to lanceolate, mostly distinctly longer than broad by normally at least times (but the juvenile leaves following the cotyledons may be almost as broad as long), from about 12 X 0.3 and 2.3 X 1-3 cm. to 5-4 X 31, 6-5 X 3.8, 7 X 1.5,7 X 3.7 and 8.2 X 5-5 cm., margins entire or more commonly with up to about 10 shallow teeth each side, prominent basal lobes not commonly present, apex of leaf acute, or particularly in the lower cauline leaves subacute to rounded; upper leaves and bracts progressively smaller. Inflorescence a usually ample panicle of very numerous small or medium (2-6 mm. in diameter) densely or laxly spicately or cymosely arranged dense rounded clusters (" glomerules ") of minute grey to green flowers, latter 1-1-5 mm. in diameter. Sepals 5, papillose on margins and outside, each with a prominent green keel in upper part. Stamens 5. Pericarp somewhat persistent but easily rubbed or scraped off seed. Seeds (Fig. 1,p. 2) black, shining, 1-2-1-6 (-1.85) mm. in diameter, bluntly keeled, testa under microscope marked with faint radial furrows further apart than in 0. opulifolium , otherwise almost smooth.

Kenya. Kisumu-Londiani District: Londiani, July 1953, C. van Someren 194! & C. van Someren in E.A.H. 10420! & Lumbwa, July 1953, C. van Someren 157!

Distb. K5; widespread in the temperate and warm parts of the Northern Hemisphere; less common and possibly only an introduction further south, but found in S. America and Australia; in Africa (other than N.) recorded from the Belgian Congo, Portuguese East Africa and S. Africa Hab. A weed of cultivation, probably recently introduced

Variation. In Europe this species is excessively variable and polymorphic, but the East African specimens appear typical. Other variants may well be introduced into our area in the future.

Note. I have not given the extensive synonymy that there is for this species in Europe, as it is not relevant here.

C. album is unquestionably very closely related to C. opulifolium , which is far commoner in East Africa. C. album differs in the mature leaves being decidedly longer than wide, often thinner in texture, and in the smoother surface of the seed when seen under the microscope. In addition the inflorescence of G. album is normally greener and not so densely glaucous-mealy as in C. opulifolium , and the stem is much more commonly tinged with red. Some authors have stated that the branching of C. opulifolium is divaricate, while that of C. album is stricter; this is often a useful character, but I would ask observers to test its constancy in East Africa.

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