Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Good King Henry, Goosefoot, English Mercury, Poor-man's Asparagus
Chenopodium bonus-henricus

Family: Amaranthaceae
Genus: Chenopodium (ken-oh-POH-dee-um) (Info)
Species: bonus-henricus (BOW-nus HEN-ree-kus) (Info)

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

16 members have or want this plant for trade.


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer

Grown for foliage

Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

Seed Collecting:
Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

Click thumbnail
to view:

By lupinelover
Thumbnail #1 of Chenopodium bonus-henricus by lupinelover

By Zaragoza
Thumbnail #2 of Chenopodium bonus-henricus by Zaragoza


1 positive
2 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive GILHOULEYHORSE On Apr 30, 2004, GILHOULEYHORSE from Hood River, OR (Zone 6a) wrote:

It was hard to start, but after it got going, is real hardy. It's good for chickens, also called "fat hen". It's one of the first things ready to eat in the early spring, before anything else.

Neutral lupinelover On Sep 7, 2003, lupinelover from Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

The dried flower spikes/seedheads are attractive if left on the plant through the summer, although they do not make good everlasting arrangements.

Ants are often observed harvesting the seeds, which can help explain its sudden appearance in distant sites.

Neutral Baa On Oct 27, 2001, Baa wrote:

An erect, succulent perennial from Europe.

Has triangular/arrow shaped, mid to dark green leaves which are mealy when young and felted beneath. Bears long spikes of very small, greenish flowers.

Flowers May-August.

Adores nirtogen rich soil and often appears on livestock farms unannounced. Likes a deep, rich,well drained soil in full sun but will take some light shade. Once you have this chap he will appear all over the place but is easy to pull up.

This really ought to go into the Vegetable section as it is a great source of iron, vitamins and minerals. It has less of an after taste than Spinach and is just as good for you, in fact it tastes rather insipid so may go unnoticed in childrens meals. It is used raw or cooked in all sorts of meals ranging from casseroles to pies. Neolithic man ate this herb as part of his diet, maybe he didn't like Spinach either!

The flower spikes can be stemed and eaten like Broccoli and shoots as Asparagus, tossed in butter.

The seeds produce a green dye and was used in the production of untanned leather as such.

Made into a poultice the leaves can help heal skin sores and the root was used as a cough medicine for sheep.

Allow to grow for one year before harvesting any of the plant.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Lemoore, California
Falmouth, Maine
Grove City, Ohio
Hood River, Oregon

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