Chenopodium standleyanum (Woodland Goosefoot)

Plant Info
Also known as: Standley's Goosefoot
Family:Amaranthaceae (Amaranth)
Life cycle:annual
Habitat:part shade, shade; disturbed soil; open woods, thickets
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:8 to 40 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

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

[photo of flower clusters] Tiny flowers are single or tightly packed in small rounded clusters (glomerules) in branching arrangements at the top of the stem, at the tips of branching stems and arising from upper leaf axils. Glomerules are often loosely arranged and distinctly separated on a branch, sometimes more crowded. Within a glomerule, flowers may be at different stages of development, some just budding and others with maturing fruit.

[close-up of glomerules] 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 5 lobes less than 1 mm long, weakly keeled, and rounded at the tip. Bracts are usually absent. The calyx, stalks and branches are smooth to sparsely white-mealy.

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

[photo of mid-stem eaves] Leaves are alternate, ¾ to 3 inches long, up to about ½ inch wide, egg-shaped to lance-elliptic in outline, pointed at the tip, wedge-shaped at the base, tapering to a stalk up to about 1 inch long. Lower leaves are largest, often have a pair of shallow lobes or a few teeth at the base, becoming smaller, narrower and toothless or nearly so as they ascend the stem.

[photo of lower leaf underside] Surfaces are green, sparsely white-mealy when young, often becoming smooth with age. Stems are erect to ascending, branched or not, smooth to sparsely white-mealy especially on the upper stem, and green.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed_without_plume

[photo of developing fruit] Fruit is a dry seed enclosed in the persistent ovary shell (pericarp) that has a smooth texture and matures from green to mottled brown to blackish and is not tightly adhered to the seed, easily separated from it. Fruit in the glomerule is all arranged horizontally and the short calyx lobes wrap around the fruit but do not fully cover it.

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


Woodland Goosefoot is an uncommon native, though likely overlooked and under-reported in the state. It is distinguished from other Chenopodium species by its usual woodland habitat, leaves mostly lance-shaped that are toothless or with few teeth in the lower half, the larger leaves with a pair of shallow basal lobes, loose clusters with flowers single or in few-flowered glomerules that are typically not crowded on a branch, weakly keeled calyx lobes that do not fully cover the fruit at maturity, smooth black seeds about 1mm diameter with the pericarp easily separated from it, and is smooth to only sparsely white-mealy all over.

It bears a vague resemblence to both the ubiquitous Lamb's-quarters (Chenopodium album), a common weed found state-wide, and the native Pitseed Goosefoot (Chenopodium berlandieri), both of which usually have much toothier leaves, are frequently quite bushy and more densely white-mealy, and the calyx lobes are more strongly keeled and longer, covering the fruit and concealing it when mature, or spreading and exposing it.

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More photos

Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken in Ramsey, Rice and Winona counties.


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

Posted by: Jason - Waite Park
on: 2023-08-21 12:51:06

Volunteer in my garden. I checked it against a few other goosefoot varieties, and it is definitely woodland goosefoot! Yay! I'll be looking to collect the seeds and propagate.

Posted by: Anne McDonald - Waite Park
on: 2023-08-21 12:57:39

My adult son found this plant in our front, north-facing garden. He plans to harvest the seeds and propagate intentionally.

Posted by: Ellen Schousboe - Edina
on: 2024-06-12 17:27:02

We have a strange weed in our yard with leaves almost identical to this one, except they grow oppositely and the undersides aren't white. The stems feel almost square. I've been unable to identify them using this site.

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2024-06-12 17:28:45

Ellen, it is much easier to ID an unknown species when flowers are present. Any particular leaf shape, including those of this species, could be characteristic of many other species. Having said that, square stems and opposite leaves are characteristic of members of both the Lamiaceae (mint) and Scrophulariaceae (figwort) families.

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