Chenopodium capitatum (strawberry blite)
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Chenopodium capitatum
Preferred Common Name
- strawberry blite
International Common Names
- English: blite goosefoot; Indian ink; Indian paint; strawberry spinach
- French: arroche fraise
- Russian: mar golovčataja
- German: Ähriger Erdbeerspinat
Local Common Names
- Austria: Kopfiger Erdbeerspinat
- Estonia: ere hanemalts
- Italy/Italy (mainland): farinello capitato; spinacio mora
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
Chenopodium capitatum is a chenopod herbaceous plant found across parts of North America (where it is native), and also in Europe and New Zealand. It is sometimes cultivated as a horticultural crop; it has the potential to become an invasive species in some areas.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Caryophyllales
- Family: Chenopodiaceae
- Genus: Chenopodium
- Species: Chenopodium capitatum
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
According to Sukhorukov and Zhang (2013), the genus Chenopodium is one of the more taxonomically difficult genera of the family Chenopodiaceae and, during the 18th and 19th centuries, many segregated genera were described that were later subsumed under the currently accepted genus Chenopodium in a broad circumscription of the genus. The classification of the genus Chenopodium and related genera was reviewed by Scott (1978). According to The Plant List (2013), maintained by RBG Kew, the currently accepted name is C. capitatum (L.) Asch. and this taxon has previously appeared under the genera Morocarpus (synonym M. capitatus (L.) Scop.) and Blitum (synonyms B. capitatum L., B. petiolare Link, B. tataricum Mill., B. terminale Stokes and B. virgatum var. capitatum (L.) Coss., Germ. & Wedd.) since subsumed under Chenopodium.
However, molecular phylogenetic analyses have shed light on the circumscription of this complex group. Using matK/trnK sequences added to an existing trnL-F data set, Fuentes-Bazan et al. (2012) found that Chenopodium, as traditionally recognized, is not monophyletic, but consists of six independent lineages. On the basis of this work and earlier phylogenetic analyses, including morphological evidence, a tribal rearrangement of the subfamily Chenopodioideae was undertaken, which restored Blitum to generic status incorporating 11 species including B. capitatum and B. bonus-henricus (≡Chenopodium bonus henricus L.). Sukhorukov et al. (2018) provides a useful discussion of the history of the nomenclature of Chenopodium/Blitum and the impact of recent molecular phylogenetic data.
DescriptionTop of page
C. capitatum is an annual or short-lived perennial (Sukhorukov et al., 2018). The following description is based on the one given in the Flora of North America (eFloras, 2008). Herbaceous, glabrous stems, 150–100 cm long, erect to ascending or decumbent, branching from the base. Leaves: blades lanceolate, ovate, triangular or triangular-hastate, 2.5–10 x 1–9 cm, base cuneate, truncate, or hastate, margins sharply dentate or entire, apex acute to acuminate; petiole 1.5–10 cm. Inflorescences: glomerules (dense clusters of small sessile flowers) borne on unbranched terminal spikes; spikes 5–20 cm; glomerules globose, 3–10 mm diameter; bracts leaf-like, present only at base of inflorescence; flowers maturing from apex to base. Flowers: perianth segments three, joined only at base, lobes lanceolate to ovate, 0.6–0.9 x 0.4–0.5 mm, apex acute, not keeled, glabrous, covering fruit at maturity, becoming fleshy and red in fruit; stamens three; stigmas 2, 0.1–0.4 mm. Achenes ovoid, may or may not be fleshy; pericarp adherent, bright red to dark reddish brown or greenish red, smooth. Seeds 0.7–1.2 mm in diameter, margins rounded; seed coat black, reticulate-punctate.
Plant TypeTop of page
DistributionTop of page
C. capitatum is distributed across northern and central eastern parts of North America where it is native (eFloras, 2008); it also occurs in Europe and New Zealand. Aellen and Just (1943) suggested that C. capitatum may be adventive or naturalized in southern Canada. Flora Europaea (Tutin et al., 1964) noted that it occurs in scattered localities across Europe and is not native nor "truly naturalized". Paul (2012) reported that C. capitatum is grown in India for use as a leafy vegetable.
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
Habitat ListTop of page
Biology and EcologyTop of page
Flowering from June to August, C. capitatum is found in meadows, woodlands and on riverbanks and disturbed ground in the wild (Baldwin et al., 2012). Jacques (1990) studied the effects of light quality, ratio of red to far-red light and phytochrome on flowering at the rosette stage with a view to develop improved production techniques for greenhouse crops.
Rainfall RegimeTop of page
UsesTop of page
Yanovsky (1936) noted that Native Americans in Nevada and Utah ate the seeds, while the leaves were used as a leafy vegetable. In Europe it is cultivated occasionally for use as a vegetable similar to spinach, and there is increasing interest in the crop (Hanelt, 2001). The red fleshy fruit clusters can be added to salads and have been used to make a dye. Kuhnlein and Turner (1991) reported that native tribes in Canada used a red dye from the fruits to stain the face and to decorate artefacts. The plants contain betaine, an important natural food colourant (Esatbeyoglu et al., 2015). It has been also grown as an ornamental (Coulter, 2006).
Quattrocchi (2012) reported that juice from seeds and whole plant infusions have been used to treat lung congestion and eye problems and Kokanova-Nedialkova et al. (2009) noted that a lotion made from the plant was used to treat bruising.
Uses ListTop of page
Human food and beverage
- Food additive
- garden plant
- Potted plant
ReferencesTop of page
Aellen P, Just T, 1943. Key and synopsis of the American species of the genus Chenopodium L. American Midland Naturalist, 30(1), 47-76.
Baldwin BG, Goldman DH, Keil DJ, Patterson R, Rosatti TJ, Wilken DH, 2012. (2nd) . Berkeley, USA: University of California Press.1600 pp.
Coulter L, 2006. Chapel Hill, USA: University of North Carolina Press.328 pp.
eFloras, 2008. Chenopodium capitatum. Flora of North America. St Louis, Missouri & Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden & Harvard University Herbaria.http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=242415399
Ellis RH, Hong TD, Roberts EH, 1985. (No. 3) . Rome, Italy: 456 pp.
Esatbeyoglu, T., Wagner, A. E., Schini-Kerth, V. B., Rimbach, G., 2015. Betanin - a food colorant with biological activity. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 59(1), 36-47. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1002/(ISSN)1613-4133 doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201400484
Fuentes-Bazan, S., Uotila, P., Borsch, T., 2012. A novel phylogeny-based generic classification for Chenopodium sensu lato, and a tribal rearrangement of Chenopodioideae (Chenopodiaceae). Willdenowia, 42(1), 5-24. http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/bgbm/will/2012/00000042/00000001/art00001 doi: 10.3372/wi42.42101
Genesys, 2019. Global Gateway to Genetic Resources. https://www.genesys-pgr.org
Hanelt P, 2001. (volume 1) . Berlin Heidelberg, Germany: Springer.539 pp.
Hauser, S., Stevens, M., Mougel, C., Smith, H. G., Fritsch, C., Herrbach, E., Lemaire, O., 2000. Biological, serological, and molecular variability suggest three distinct polerovirus species infecting beet or rape. Phytopathology, 90(5), 460-466. doi: 10.1094/PHYTO.2000.90.5.460
Jacques, R., 1990. Controlled environment and progress in the knowledge of plant biology. (Maîtrise des conditions climatiques et progrès des connaissances en biologie végétale). In: Comptes Rendus de l'Académie d'Agriculture de France , 76(5) . 3-12.
Kokanova-Nedialkova, Z., Nedialkov, P. T., Nikolov, S. D., 2009. The genus Chenopodium: phytochemistry, ethnopharmacology and pharmacology. Pharmacognosy Reviews, 3(6), 280-306. http://www.phcogrev.com/temp/PhcogRev36280-9722923_024202.pdf
Kuhnlein HV, Turner NJ, 1991. (Volume 8) . Amsterdam, Netherlands: Gordon and Breach Publishers.525 pp.
Paul TK, 2012. A synopsis of the family Chenopodiaceae in India. Pleione , 6(2), 273-297.
Quattrocchi, U., 2012. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology , [ed. by Quattrocchi, U.]. London, UK: CRC Press Inc.3960 pp.
Sukhorukov AP, Nilova MV, Krinitsina AA, Zaika MA, Erst AS, Shepherd KA, 2018. Molecular phylogenetic data and seed coat anatomy resolve the generic position of some critical Chenopodioideae (Chenopodiaceae – Amaranthaceae) with reduced perianth segments. PhytoKeys, 109, 103-128.
Sukhorukov, A. P., Zhang MingLi, 2013. Fruit and seed anatomy of Chenopodium and related genera (Chenopodioideae, Chenopodiaceae/Amaranthaceae): implications for evolution and taxonomy. PLoS ONE, 8(4), e61906. http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0061906 doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0061906
The Plant List, 2013. London, UK: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.http://www.theplantlist.org/
Tutin TG, Heywood VH, Burges NA, Valentine DH, Walters SM, Webb DA, 1964. Flora Europaea, (1) . Cambridge, 464.
Yanovsky E, 1936. (No. 237) . Washington, D.C, USA: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
CABI Data Mining, 2011. Invasive Species Databases.,
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