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

Fat-hen
Fat-hen

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.†††