The Great Okra Fiasco of 2013


One Misidentified Plant with Amazing Results: 

Congratulations! You are now the proud owner, not of OKRA but of Chenopodium album, lovingly (and not so lovingly) known to the masses as "Lamb's Quarters" (or, weeds). 

Chenopodium goes by many names.  
  • In England, they even call one Chenopodium species 'Poor Man's Asparagus'
  • In Mexico, Quelite 
  • In Northern India, they cultivate this weed and call it bathua or bathuwa (बथुआ). 
  • Στή Κρήτη, το λέτε κρουβίδα ή ψαρόβλητο

Wait, Aren't You're Studying Herbalism and Plants and Stuff?

Aren't You Supposed to Know What All the Plants Look Like?

I thought the 'okra' plants had done a late sprout, from the burgundy okra heirloom seeds I had planted a year before due to the reddish tint of the young stalks. SO, I lovingly (so very lovingly) and carefully (so very carefully) transplanted the 'okra' seedlings, giving them space to spread, and also giving them to my friends...

When it came time for the okra to 'flower' due to its maturity and size, I started to wonder. Hmmmm, what's wrong with my okra. Dear Lord, please remember the importance of properly identifying your plants - and THAT, my friend, is why I am preparing to study with the top medical botanist in the country. 

See, I'm a "gardener" not a gardener and I've found my true love there. I cordon off a space and see what 'weeds' will grow. In growing native, at their leisure, in their moment where they will, the plants tell me a story better than any one I could have ever imagined, dreamed up or done with all the effort in all the hours of all the days...All I have to do is listen. 


on life and colonialism in your food plots...

Cascade Anderson Geller talks about "Masculine Gardening" as the process of ripping out everything native from the land and then replanting with our narrow-minded desire for a crop. She compares that to colonial culture.

Hey, I hate everything about colonial culture (I wonder how that relates to imperialism, but that is for another day) because what has it ACTUALLY given us outside of a destruction-filled terror spew slaughtering all that blocks its way, like a Roman Legionnaire in the days of old saying "slaughter all, the good will go to god." Ladies and gents, this lifestyle reeks of death and our planet is SUFFERING for it. We behold colonial culture as the opposite of what James Lovelock defines as 'life'.

According to that amazing Gaia-Theory originator, that man trained in biology and medicine asked to help find life on planet Mars, LIFE is:

"Abundant energy flow and reduction of entropy over time." 

Cascade tells us about Feminine Gardening, the "gardening" I am talking about. 
She advises to "Plan a feminine and masculine form of the garden. Let the feminine garden teach you." That feminine garden lets plants grow where they will and prosper as they must. As a feminine (not feminIST) gardener, I was just watching the plants, delighting and even intentionally avoiding further inquiry into my 'okra' on the internets because I was so entranced to delight in its unfolding, and watching it everyday was the sweetest spot of time for me.

The Upside of our Downside

Young okra fiasco casualty, rejoice. You are now the proud owner of a spinach tree that thrives in our shitty Savannah GA soil. If you've masculinely tried to grow spinach here, you'll know best what it looks like bolting. What an effort, what a fucking backbreaking water-wasting effort in all but late fall to winter.

You eat quinoa? Good. Your chenopodium is a member of its family (Amaranthaceae, subfamily Chenopodiaceae) and bless your blessed heart if you have the patience to save the seeds because they're packed with protein. I sure don't, but this easy Chenopodium-ful life is blessed tenfold, however. How? Gather these wild spinach leaves every morning then sauteé them in a pan, add 2 eggs and some motherfunkin' caperberries then top it with nutritional yeast and a little bit o sriracha and fresh cracked pepper - yeahhhhhhh boyyyy now we're talkin! 

My 8' Wild Spinach Tree

A Word of Caution : Only Eat Cooked

Here's the only thing. Chenopodium is relatively high in a semi-toxic phytoconstituent called Oxalic Acid (140,000 - 300,000 parts per million according to Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases). Don't fret, it won't kill you. The oxalic acid binds to calcium so blocks calcium absorption, affecting kidneys as an oxalate, so if you're prone to kidney stones I wouldn't recommend you eat this more than once a week, if that. The thing about that only thing>the oxalic acid is rendered inert with any sort of cooking (sauteé, steam, ferment, etc.). So, enjoy your native greens long throughout the summer months.

The only thing I could think of for scale, this is just the top third of my tallest, girth-iest Chenopodium.



Duke, James. "Chemicals in: Chenopodium album L. (Chenopodiaceae) -- Lambsquarter". Dr. Duke's Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases website. Accessed July 3, 2013. http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/duke/farmacy2.pl?249
  • Duke, James A. 1992. Handbook of phytochemical constituents of GRAS herbs and other economic plants. Boca Raton, FL. CRC Press.
Geller, Cascade Anderson. “HerbalHarvest” Lecture. Southwest Conference on Botanical Medicine. April 2009.Accessed 5/18/13. http://botanicalmedicine.org/Tapes/Bios/Geller.htm

Lovelock, James. From Gaia to Selfish Genes. Book. Found in the Dumpster. Rejoice.

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