Information on Fat-hen

Common Name: Fat-hen
Scientific Name: Chenopodium album
Irish Name: Praiseach fhiŠin
Family Group: Chenopodiaceae
Distribution: View Map (Courtesy of the BSBI)
Flowering Period

Click for list of all flowering by month
Fat-hen is not easily confused with other wild plants on this web site.

Growing on arable land, waste ground and roadsides throughout the country, Fat-hen is an upright annual plant. Usually having a white, mealy or floury covering, it stands erect, reaching as much as 100 cm in height. Its flowers are really tiny, green-white and inconspicuous, having no petals. They are borne in spikes on stem,s which can sometimes be red-striped, from June to October. The coarsely toothed grey-green leaves are variable, being both oval and diamond-shaped. This is an introduced plant and it belongs to the Chenopodiaceae family.†

†My first record of Fat-hen is in Gibletstown, Co Wexford in 2009 where I photographed it in 2010.

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, please submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre


This is the type of plant best described by the word 'weed'. Unless you happen to be a hen, and I'm told that hens quite like to eat this plant, it is regarded as a bit of a nuisance in a garden setting. It was once used as a foodstuff; ground up it made a type of porridge. Fat-hen is a useful plant to have bordering your vegetable beds as it attracts bugs which may be harmful to the vegetable plants.†††