Chenopodium album is a fast-growing weedy annual plant in the genus Chenopodium.
It tends to grow upright at first, reaching heights of 10?150 cm (rarely to 3 m), but typically becomes recumbent after flowering (due to the weight of the foliage and seeds) unless supported by other plants. The leaves are alternate and can be varied in appearance. The first leaves, near the base of the plant, are toothed and roughly diamond-shaped, 3?7 cm long and 3?6 cm broad. The leaves on the upper part of the flowering stems are entire and lanceolate-rhomboid, 1?5 cm long and 0.4?2 cm broad; they are waxy-coated, unwettable and mealy in appearance, with a whitish coat on the underside. The small flowers are radially symmetrical and grow in small cymes on a dense branched inflorescence 10?40 cm long.
The leaves and young shoots may be eaten as a leaf vegetable, either steamed in its entirety, or cooked like spinach, but should be eaten in moderation due to high levels of oxalic acid. Each plant produces tens of thousands of black seeds. These are high in protein, vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. Quinoa is a closely related species which is grown specifically for its seeds. It is also used as a medicinal plant in traditional African medicine.