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CHENOPODIUM ambrosioides

Image of Chenopodium ambrosioides

James H. Schutte

Family

Chenopodiaceae

Botanical Name

CHENOPODIUM ambrosioides

Plant Common Name

Mexican Tea

General Description

Long prized in Mexico as an herb and medicinal plant, this weedy annual or short-lived perennial from tropical America is naturalized worldwide from the tropics to the temperate zones. Plants form clumps of erect, waist-high stems with alternate, oval, toothed leaves. Bruised leaves emit a pungent, disagreeable odor. In summer, long spikes of small greenish flowers appear at the stem tips and leaf axils. Tiny greenish single-seeded fruits follow the flowers. Plants readily self-sow.

Mexican tea leaves are added to many traditional Mexican dishes and lend a distinctive flavor. Oil from the leaves and stems were also traditionally used to treat stomach ailments in both humans and livestock but this is no longer recommended as ingestion of the oil may pose health problems (http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/plants/medicinal/epazote.html). The oil is known to have fungicidal properties as well.

Mexican tea requires ample sun and grows most vigorously in rich, moist, well-drained soil. This adaptable plant does well in many other soils, however, occuring in roadsides and other disturbed areas throughout its naturalized range. Plants are easily propagated from seed, which is sometimes available commercially.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 1

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Herb

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    18"-48" / 45.7cm - 121.9cm

  • Width

    20"-30" / 50.8cm - 76.2cm

  • Bloom Time

    Early Summer, Summer, Late Summer, Early Fall, Fall

  • Native To

    Mexico, Central America, South America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances

    Drought

  • Growth Rate

    Very Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    Green

  • Fruit Color

    Green, Light Green, Tan

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Light Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Light Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Light Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    Yes

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    Yes

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Herb / Vegetable

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    Yes

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes