Chenopodium simplex (Maple-leaf Goosefoot)

Plant Info
Also known as: Giant-seed Goosefoot
Family:Amaranthaceae (Amaranth)
Life cycle:annual
Habitat:part shade, shade, sun; moist rocky or sandy soil; woods, pine forest, cliffs, rocky slopes, shores, wetland edges, roadsides, waste places
Bloom season:June - September
Plant height:1 to 5 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Flower shape: indistinct Cluster type: panicle Cluster type: round Cluster type: spike

[photo of flower clusters] Numerous tiny flowers are tightly packed in rounded clusters (glomerules) in spike-like and branching arrangements at the top of the stem, at the tips of branching stems, and arising from upper leaf axils. Within a glomerule, flowers may be at different stages of development, some just budding and others with maturing fruit.

[close-up of flowers] Flowers lack petals, have 5 stamens and a round, green ovary with a 2-parted style at the tip. Cupping the flower is a green calyx with usually 5 lobes up to 1 mm long, occasionally 4 lobes. Flowers are sometimes pinkish and may turn red with maturity. Bracts are absent. The calyx and stalks are smooth to sparsely white-mealy.

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are alternate, 1½ to 6+ inches long, up to about 4 inches wide, triangular to egg-shaped in outline, irregularly lobed around the edge, the lobes like large, sharply pointed teeth with a broad, rounded sinus between, the base heart-shaped to straight across. Lower leaves are largest on stalks up to about 1 inch long, upper leaves usually smaller and shorter-stalked. Surfaces are bright green, hairless and smooth, sometimes sparsely white-mealy when young but becoming smooth. Stems are usually erect, unbranched to much branched, green and smooth except in the flower clusters.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed_without_plume

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a dry seed enclosed in the persistent ovary shell (pericarp) that matures from green to brown and may loosely wrap the seed or is tightly adhered to it. Fruit in the glomerule is all arranged horizontally.

[photo of seed] Seeds are flattened round to egg-shaped, 1 to 2 mm long, shiny black, faintly pitted or wrinkled to nearly smooth on the surface.


Maple-leaf Goosefoot, known in some references as Chenopodiastrum simplex, Chenopodium gigantospermum or Chenopodium hybridum, is an annual found mostly in moist, usually shaded, rocky or sandy soils and is less weedy than most other Chenopodium species. It is distinguished from the others primarily by the leaves, which are larger than average with a few large, sharply pointed teeth-like lobes and a broad, rounded sinus between teeth. Leaves are not white-mealy, or only sparsely so when young. The flower or fruit clusters are also smooth to sparsely white-mealy, the calyx usually has 5 lobes, the clusters are more heavily branched than most others in the genus, and seeds are shiny black and larger than average, 1 to 2 mm long.

It is one of the easier Chenopodium species to identify. By comparison, other species may have leaves that have rounded lobes or not lobed at all, are consistently white-mealy on one or both leaf surfaces, are densely white-mealy in the flower and fruit clusters, have only 3(4) calyx lobes, and/or seeds less than 1 mm long, have a more deeply pitted or wrinkly texture on the surface, and/or are brown.


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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Clay and Renville counties. Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in various locations across Minnesota.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: John Weiland - Sabin -- Clay County
on: 2020-12-04 13:35:11

I've collected seeds from this species this year south of Sabin MN in Clay county. Do you know if these seeds require vernalization before they will germinate? Or can one simply plant them directly and expect a good number to germinate without a cold period? Thanks!

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2020-12-04 13:47:37

John, some annuals require cold-moist stratification before they will germinate but most do not. I don't believe Chenopodium does.

Posted by: Steve Weston - Eagan
on: 2021-08-08 02:07:18

found in wetland in Apple Valley, Dakota County. Picture available.

Posted by: Molly McGuire - Winona
on: 2021-08-09 21:48:23

Found a few of these in a flower garden area.

Posted by: Chris Strange - Brooklyn Park
on: 2022-06-26 08:04:03

I found it growing in my raised bed. Is it edible? Does it provide food for wild life?

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2022-06-26 09:11:37

Chris, Chenopodiums in general do not have a high value for wildlife. Most are edible in small quantities.

Posted by: Daniel J Bera - Hines
on: 2023-07-26 16:17:00

found again a year after a load of hay.

Posted by: Diana Turner - NE MPLS in a disturbed area of sloping bed of front yard
on: 2023-08-27 08:52:30

I was so enamored by the leaves shape, I left it to grow...there will be a lot of seeds from this 4' plant and I'm eager to see how it changes color. Will this self seed and grow out of control next year if I do that? Is this considered a late pollinator because of the small flowers? I'll be watching as I have a fondness for wildflowers in an urban setting.

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2023-08-27 09:06:14

Diana, like most Chenopodiums, this readily self-seeds so left to its own devices it could easily produce an overabundance of new plants next year.

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