This herbaceous plant is a summer annual. A typical plant is about 6"
tall and 12"
across; it is abundantly branched at the base, and occasionally
branched above. The stems are ascending to sprawling, more or less
terete, pale reddish green to reddish purple, and glabrous. Sometimes
the stems have vertical stripes that are green alternating with red.
Alternate leaves occur along the entire length of each stem; they are
¾–2" long and 6-15 mm. across. The leaves are elliptic-oblong,
elliptic, broadly elliptic, or lanceolate; they are shallowly
pinnatifid, coarsely dentate, and/or sinuate along their margins. The
leaf bases are wedge-shaped, while their tips and lobes (if any) are
blunt or acute. The upper leaf surface is medium green or bluish green
and glabrous, while the lower leaf surface is white-mealy (farinose).
The petioles are up to ½" long, light green to yellowish red, and
glabrous. The stems eventually terminate in either spikes or panicles
of interrupted clusters of flowers; there are also axillary spikes of
flowers that develop from the upper leaves. Individual floral spikes
up to 2" long; there are several small flowers per cluster. Some
flowers may have pedicels up to 0.5 mm. long. Each mature flower is
about 2 mm.
across, consisting of 3-5 greenish sepals, 3-5 stamens, and a pistil
with a pair of styles; there are no petals. The sepals are lanceolate
to ovate, bluntly tipped, and glabrous; they are either weakly keeled
or flat. The stamens are exserted with yellow anthers. The rachises of
floral spikes are glabrous.
The blooming period occurs from early summer
to early autumn. However, individual plants remain in bloom for about 1
month; only a few flowers bloom at the same time. The flowers are
cross-pollinated by the wind. Afterwards, the ovaries of the flowers
develop into seeds (a single seed per flower); the orientation of these
seeds may be vertical or horizontal. The persistent sepals cover only
the edges of these seeds. Individual seeds are 0.5–1 mm. across,
globular-flattened in shape, and dark brown to dark reddish brown. Thin
membranes cover the seeds; they are easily removed. The root system
consists of a shallow taproot with secondary roots that are fibrous.
This plant reproduces by reseeding itself.
preference is full to partial sun, more or less mesic conditions, and
soil containing some sand or loose loam. The size of individual plants
is variable, depending on soil fertility and moisture conditions. Once
the seeds have germinated in late spring, growth and development is
The adventive Oak-leaved Goosefoot is
in NE Illinois and uncommon elsewhere in the state (see Distribution
). This plant is native to Eurasia. Habitats include
gardens, construction sites, areas along railroads, roadsides,
barnyards, and waste areas. Habitats with a history of disturbance are
preferred, especially when this exposes the topsoil.
Various insects feed on the foliage, roots,
parts of goosefoot species (Chenopodium
). These insect feeders
include the Three-spotted Flea Beetle (Disonycha
larvae of the Spinach Leafminer Fly (Pegomya hyoscyami
Chenopodium Aphid (Hayhurstia
) and Sugar Beet Root Aphid
the Chenopodium Leafhopper (Norvellina
and the larvae of such moths as the Flamboyant Twirler Moth
), Hollow-spotted Blepharomastix
Chenopodium Scythris Moth (Scythris
), Eight-Spot (Amyna
), Ragweed Borer Moth
), and Morning Glory Plume Moth (Emmelina monodactyla
addition, the caterpillars of two skippers, the Common Sootywing
and Hayhurst's Scallopwing (Staphylus
also feed on these plants. Among vertebrate animals, upland gamebirds
and many songbirds, especially sparrows, eat the seeds of goosefoot
species (Martin et al., 1951/1961). The Bird Table
a list of
these species. Some small rodents also eat the seeds, including the
Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel, Prairie Deer Mouse, and White-footed
Mouse (Whitaker, 1966). White-tailed Deer browse on the foliage and
seedheads of goosefoot species, including Oak-leaved Goosefoot. The
seeds of these plants are able to pass through the digestive tract of
this animal and remain viable. In this manner, the seeds are dispersed
across considerable distances (Myers et al., 2004).
Along a sidewalk in Urbana,
Illinois, where some
construction and landscaping activity occurred.
Oak-leaved Goosefoot (Chenopodium
) can be
distinguished from most goosefoot species (Chenopodium spp.
shape of its leaves. In addition, the undersides of its leaves are
white-mealy, while the rest of the plant is glabrous or nearly so. The
flowers of Oak-leaved Goosefoot are also glabrous, and their sepals
cover only the margins of the developing ovaries or seeds. Other
goosefoot species usually have differently shaped leaves, their flowers
are more or less white-mealy, and their sepals cover most of the
developing ovaries or seeds. Like other weedy goosefoot species,
Oak-leaved Goosefoot has a preference for disturbed habitats with
exposed topsoil. It is less erect than most of them, having a tendency
to remain relatively low and sprawl across the ground. There is a
variety of Oak-leaved Goosefoot, Chenopodium
, that is
native to the western United States. It tends to have bluish foliage,
while the lobes, teeth, and tips of its leaves are usually more narrow
and pointed. There are no records of this variety occurring in Illinois
at the present time.