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Published In: Species Plantarum 1: 218. 1753. (1 May 1753) (Sp. Pl.) Name publication detailView in BotanicusView in Biodiversity Heritage Library

Project Name Data (Last Modified On 6/2/2011)
Acceptance : Accepted
Project Data     (Last Modified On 6/3/2011)
Synonym Text: Blitum L., Sp. Pl.: 4. 1753; Gen. Pl. ed. 5: 6. 1754.

Roubieva Moq. in Ann. Sci. Nat. Bot. 2, ser. 2, 1: 292. 1834.

General/Distribution: A genus of ca. 150 species, globally distributed in all continents, mainly in subtropical and temperate regions. Some are noxious weeds and a few are cultivated. The genetically and environmentally controlled variation of the vegetative characters (branching habit, leaf shape, shape of inflorescence) of Chenopodium is wide and to some extent parallel in most species. Petioles are shorter, blade smaller and narrower and more entire from lower (except the lowermost ones) to medium leaves and to bracts. So, the best diagnostic characters in leaves are in the lower and medium leaves, and, unless otherwise indicated, the leaf characters given in the key and descriptions refer to mature leaves in the basal half of the stem. In addition to mature leaves, floral characters and seeds are often required to confirm identification. All this emphasises the importance of collecting as complete specimens as possible. Inadequate specimens are often impossible to name with confidence.


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Annuals, rarely short-lived perennial herbs, young parts farinose with vesicular hairs, which later collapse to scales, or disappear, or plant glandular-hairy, or glabrous. Stem erect to ascending, sometimes prostrate, subangular or sometimes distinctly angular, yellowish, green or green-striped, sometimes red to purple especially in branch and leaf axils. Leaves alternate, except sometimes for the lowermost ones, well-developed; petiole usually shorter than blade, shortening progressively upwards; blade simple to pinnatifid, variously dentate - irregularly serrate - lobed or entire, flat, soft, narrower and entire in bracts. Inflorescence usually a variable panicle or spiciform, formed of clusters of cymosely arranged flowers (glomerules). Flowers small, often dimorphic: terminal flowers bisexual or male, lateral flowers usually female. Perianth lobes 3-5. Stamens 5 or less, usually free. Stigmas 2(-5). Fruit usually falling with perianth. Pericarp usually membranous, sometimes succulent. Seeds horizontal to vertical, lenticular; testa crustaceous, usually lustrous; embryo annular to hippocrepiform.

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1 Plant with simple and glandular hairs or glands, aromatic. (2)
+ Plant glabrous to vesicular hairy (farinose), not aromatic but sometimes bad smelling. (5)
2 (1) Flowers solitary or a few in lax cymes, arranged in panicles; leaves pinnatifid. (3)
+ Flowers in dense glomerules, arranged in spikes or panicles; leaves coarsely serrate.(Fig.7, A-D). 15 Chenopodium ambrosioides
3 (2) Glandular hairs subsessile; perianth segments ovate to broadly ovate, margins with glands. (4)
+ All glandular hairs stalked; perianth segments narrowly ovate, weakly keeled dorsally, margins without glands. (Fig.7, E-H1) 16 Chenopodium botrys
4 (3) Back of perianth segments cristate, glabrous. 18 Chenopodium schraderianum
+ Perianth segments ± weakly keeled, keel with simple eglandular hairs. 17 Chenopodium nepalense
5 (1) Inflorescence composed of ± sessile, very compact, often berry-like axillary glomerules along the stem and branches; ± glabrous; lower leaves ± triangular. (6)
+ Inflorescence much branched, glomerules not axillary, less compact, not berry-like; usually vesicular hairy (farinose) especially when young, sometimes glabrous; lower leaves rhombic-ovate-trullate, rarely triangular. (8)
6 (5) Blade of lower leaves longer than broad, dentate-serrate; glomerules at least 4 mm, usually succulent, red; stem and branches fairly stout stem erect or ± prostrate. (7)
+ Blade of lower leaves as long as broad, with basal lobes; margins entire; glomerules 2-4 mm, dry; stem and branches slender, ascending. (Fig. 3, B) 3 Chenopodium korshinskyi
7 (6) Usually erect plant, branches spreading; leaves to uppermost bracts toothed; seeds 1.0-1.4 mm in diameter, ± round in outline. (Fig. 2, A-D). 1 Chenopodium foliosum
+ Stem and branches ± prostrate, uppermost bracts entire except for a pair of basal lobes; seeds 0.8-1.2 mm, ovate. 2 Chenopodium litwinowii
8 (5) Leaf blade not as above; stem striated-subangular. (9)
+ Leaf blade, 3-8(-15) cm, triangular to ovate, with outward-projecting acute basal lobes and 0-2 lobe-like acute teeth on both sides, otherwise entire; stem prominently angular. (Fig.4, A-D). 6 Chenopodium badachschanicum
9 (8) Leaves ± concolorous; all flowers with horizontal seeds and 5 perianth segments, free to at least halfway. (10)
+ At least young leaves glaucous below, green above; in terminal flowers perianth segments 5 and seeds horizontal; in lateral flowers perianth segments usually 3, free to base or connate, and seeds vertical. (Fig.2, E-G). 4 Chenopodium glaucum
10 (9) Perianth segments with a rounded back or keeled of the major part of the length; pericarp free to adherent, margin of seed rounded to somewhat acute; testa smooth to finely sculptured, sometimes pitted; leaf blade toothed to entire. (11)
+ Perianth segments with a prominent green or red swelling on the back near the apex; pericarp persistent, margin of seed keeled, acute; testa prominently pitted; leaf blade toothed. (Fig.4, E-H1) 5 Chenopodium murale
11 (10) Seeds 0.8-1.5 mm, testa smooth to radially furrowed or minutely pitted to obscurely reticulate; leaves not as above. (12)
+ Seeds c. 1 mm, testa pitted, pits radially elongated except for margin area; leaf-blade 3-lobed with fairly long, elliptic-truncate middle-lobe, or whole blade narrowly elliptic, with a few teeth. (Fig.5, A-E). 7a Chenopodium ficifolium subsp. blomianum
12 (11) Leaf blade ovate to broadly rhombic, less than 2x longer than broad, margin entire, or angled or with a pair of rounded shallow lobes at broadest point. (13)
+ Leaf blade rhombic-trullate-triangular, entire or with 1-2 lobe-like, usually toothed, teeth on both sides at the broadest point, margin serrate or dentate, if margin entire, blade usually lanceolate to narrowly elliptic, more than 2x longer than broad. (15)
13 (12) Plant less farinose, not smelling as above; leaf blade ± ovate, with a pair of rounded shallow lobes or entire, not angled; inflorescence paniculate, not formed of small thyrses. (14)
+ Plant strongly farinose, bad smelling; leaf blade ovate to rhombic, entire or sometimes angled at broadest part; inflorescence composed of small thyrses. (Fig.6, A-D). 8 Chenopodium vulvaria
14 (13) Leaf blade usually 1.5-2.5 cm; perianth segments lobed to halfway down; seeds 1.1-1.3 mm, round, finely pitted. 9 Chenopodium karoi
+ Leaf blade 0.7-1.3 cm; perianth segments free to near the base; seeds 0.8-1.1 mm, ovate, smooth. 10 Chenopodium pamiricum
15 (12) Leaf blade rhombic–elliptic-ovate-trullate, distinctly longer than broad, obtuse to acute, margin entire to toothed; perianth lobes usually with a low keel. (16)
+ Leaf blade triangular to broadly ovate, often almost as broad as long, acute-acuminate, margin usually sparsely toothed, with prominent basal teeth; perianth lobes with prominent keel on back. (Fig.3, A). 14 Chenopodium atripliciforme
16 (15) Inflorescence spiciform; leaf blade glaucous, olive or silvery green, trullate to elliptic, ± regularly serrate or entire. Seeds 0.9-1.2 mm, ovate to round in outline. (17)
+ Inflorescence paniculate, leaf blade dull green to yellowish or pure green, usually not glaucous, trullate to rhombic, margin variously serrate or entire, sometimes with lobe-like basal teeth; Seeds 1.1-1.5 mm, round to slightly ovate in outline. 13 Chenopodium album
17 (16) Leaf blade glaucous to olive green, trullate to elliptic, ± regularly dentate - entire; seeds ovate in outline. 12 Chenopodium strictum
+ Leaf blade silvery greyish green to glaucous, narrowly trullate to narrowly elliptic, margin entire or with 2 lobe-like basal teeth; seeds round in outline. 11 Chenopodium novopokrovskyanum
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