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Statewide IPM Program, University of California

Nettleleaf goosefoot  (Chenopodium murale)

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flowers seedling seeds mature plant Life stages of Nettleleaf goosefoot

Nettleleaf goosefoot, a broadleaf plant, is among the most common summer annuals. It is found throughout California to an elevation of 5900 feet (1800 m) and inhabits agricultural land and other disturbed areas. Under certain conditions, nettleleaf goosefoot may contain toxic amounts of oxalate or nitrate compounds. Sheep and other grazing animals are affected. It is a host of viruses that affect several crops and ornamentals including cherry leafroll, beet curly top, and plum pox viruses; ringspot viruses of pepper, hibiscus, and tomato; and mosaic viruses of beet, lettuce, apple, cucumber, parsnip, radish, tomato, turnip, watermelon, hop, poplar, and primula.


Roadsides, fields, pastures, agronomic and vegetable croplands, gardens, orchards, vineyards, landscaped areas, and disturbed, unmanaged sites.


Cotyledons (seed leaves) are dark green, narrow and oblong to lance shaped. First leaves are similar in size to the cotyledons and appear to be opposite to one another on the stem. Later leaves are alternate to one another along the stem and are increasingly larger. Leaf edges are weakly toothed. Minute, white, dotlike scales sparsely cover the upper and especially the lower leaf surface. Stalks and the lower leaf surface are sometimes purplish red.

Mature plant

The mature plant grows up to 3 feet (90 cm) tall, with branches arising mostly from the base of the main stem. Leaves are usually triangular/egg shaped to lance shaped and have coarsely toothed edges with an upper dark green, glossy surface, and a lower surface that is sparsely covered with fine, white, powdery coating. Leaves have slender stalks that are roughly half as long as the leaf blade. Young leaves have a moist, dewy coating and a strong odor when crushed.


Nettleleaf goosefoot blooms mostly in spring, but sometimes blooms almost year-round. Tiny, green, stalkless flowers are less than 1/10 of an inch (1.5 mm) in diameter and cluster densely into flower heads, most of which are found at the tips of the main stem and branches. Some flowers, however, arise from bases of leaves in the lower portion of the stem.


The fruits are tiny, up to 1/17 of an inch (about 1.5 mm) in diameter. The outer fruit wall is difficult to separate from the seed.


The seeds are disk shaped, black to dark brown, with a minutely pitted surface.


Reproduces by seed.

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