Goosefoot plants

Author: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer

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Last updated on: 29.10.2020

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Chenopodium; Goosefoot White

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The goosefoot plants (Chenopodium) are with about 1500 species a species-rich plant genus from the subfamily Chenopodioideae in the family of the foxtail plants (Amaranthaceae) with worldwide distribution.

The Chenopodium species are mostly annual or perennial herbaceous plants, more rarely semi-shrubs or shrubs. They do not have an aromatic smell, but are sometimes malodorous.

The branched stems grow erect, their lateral branches alternate. The smooth, serrated or lobed leaves are rhombic to elongated, also lancet-shaped. The flowers are inconspicuous.

General information
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The genus Chenopodium is distributed worldwide. Many species thrive in dry regions or on salty soils. Of the goosefeet in the broader sense, 16 species are endemic to Germany. These are the following species:

White goosefoot (Chenopodium album L.), narrow-leaved goosefoot (Chenopodium pratericola Rydb.), small-leaved goosefoot (Chenopodium striatiforme Murr), fragrant goosefoot, stinky goosefoot (Chenopodium vulvaria L.), thickleaved goosefoot (Oxybasis chenopodioides (L.) and others.

Various species of goosefoot (e.g. Chenopodium pallidicaule or Chenopodium nuttalliae) are of economic importance as pseudo-cereals. Numerous species are edible. Some species are suitable as dyer plants. In agriculture, however, several species cause problems as "weeds", such as the "white goosefoot" (Chenopodium album), whose pollen is of high allergological relevance.

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Chenopodiaceae are salt-loving plants (halophytes, ruderal plants) with nitrate accumulation; furthermore, the plants often contain calcium oxalates (as druses), betaine, saponins, betalaines, furanocoumarins. Allergologically, goose-weed can contribute to high local exposures and sensitization in certain geographical regions. Relevant isolated allergens of Chenopodium album (white goosefoot) are:

  • Che a 1 (Ole e1-like profilin)
  • Che a 2 (Profilin)
  • Che a 3 (polcalcine).

Besides pollen sensitizations, phototoxic reactions to Chenopodium album have been described (although rarely). Furocoumarin components in the white goosefoot are accused.

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  1. Amini A et al (2011) Chenopodium album pollen profilin (Che a 2): homology modeling and evaluation of cross-reactivity with allergenic profilins based on predicted potential IgE epitopes and IgE reactivity analysis. Mol Biol Rep 38:2579-2587.
  2. Barderas R et al(2004) Profilin (Che a 2) and polcalcin (Che a 3) are relevant allergens of Chenopodium album pollen: isolation, mino acid sequences, and immunologic properties. J Allergy Clin Immunol 113:1192-1198.
  3. Calka O et al(2005) Phototoxic dermatitis due to Chenopodium album in a mother and son. Contact dermatitis 53:58-60.
  4. Hausen BM, Vieluf K (1997) Allergy plants, plant allergens. Ecomed publishing house Landsberg (Munich) 81-82
  5. Kamel EG et al (2011) Parasitological and biochemical parameters in Schistosoma mansoni-infected mice treated with methanol extract from the plants Chenopodium ambrosioides, Conyza dioscorides and Sesbania sesban. Parasitol Int 60:388-392.
  6. Monzote L et al(2014) Essential oil from Chenopodium ambrosioides and main components: activity against Leishmania, their mitochondria and other microorganisms. Exp Parasitol 136:20-26.
  7. Nouri HR et al (2013) Immunotherapy with a recombinant hybrid molecule alleviates allergic responses more efficiently than an allergenic cocktail or pollen extract in a model of chenopodium album allergy. Int Arch Allergy Immunol 161:325-332.
  8. Vahedi F et al (2010) Cloning and expression of Che a 1, the major allergen of Chenopodium album in Escherichia coli. Appl Biochem Biotechnol 163:895-905.


Last updated on: 29.10.2020