Chenopodium nuttalliae

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Chenopodium nuttalliae
Huazontle horizontal.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Core eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Amaranthaceae
Subfamily: Chenopodioideae
Genus: Chenopodium
Species: C. nuttalliae
Binomial name
Chenopodium nuttalliae

Chenopodium berlandieri subsp. nuttalliae

Huauzontle (literally "hairy amaranth", from the Nahuatl huanutli 'amaranth' and tzontli 'hair') is the common name for Chenopodium nuttalliae, a species of edible plant native to Mexico. Other variations of the name include huauhzontle, huanzontle, and guausoncle. It is related to other commonly-consumed plants such as quinoa, amaranth, and epazote, as well as the common American weeds goosefoot and lambsquarters. The plant grows upright branches with red tinted green leafy stems. Huauzontle stems superficially resemble baby broccoli, although the stems are much thinner, and support fewer of the leaves.

Like amaranth, huauzontle is very resistant to cold and dry climates, and grows even in poor soil. In addition, it has a high nutritional level, which makes it an excellent grain alternative in regions with difficulties sowing other types of cereals.

During the rule of Moctezuma, huauzontle and amaranth were the fourth most important crops, after maize, beans, and chia. Many towns paid tribute to the Aztec empire in huauzontle.[1][2]

Culinary Use[edit]

As with other members of the goosefoot family, the leaves, branches, flowers (inflorescence), and seeds of huauzontle are all edible. The plant is used both as an herb and as a vegetable in Mexican cuisine. While it is eaten throughout Mexico, it is most commonly consumed in the center of the country, especially in the states of Tlaxcala, Mexico, Guerrero, Morelos, and in the south of Mexico City.

The most popular dish is huauzontle pancakes stuffed with cheese and topped with tomato sauce. Alternatively, huauzontles can be encased in an egg batter and deep-fried with a stick of salty Mexican cheese. Huauzontle is used to season salads, ahuautles in pasilla sauce, and beef fillets. The mature seeds can also be ground into flour to make tortillas.

Like quinoa, another plant in the Chenopodium genus, huauzontle contains saponins, albeit in lesser quantities. While saponins are toxic to humans, huauzontle contains such small amounts that they pose no risk. Additionally, saponins are difficult for the human body to absorb, and are mostly rendered inactive when cooked.


  1. ^ Redwood City Seed Company Catalog of Ecoseeds 2014.
  2. ^ Charles B. Heiser Jr. and David C. Nelson (1 September 1974). "On the origin of the cultivated chenopods (Chenopodium)" (abstract page). Genetics. 78 (1): 503–5. PMC 1213209Freely accessible. PMID 4442716. 

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