Fat Hen (Chenopodium album)

Photo: (c) Harry Rose

Family: Chenopodiaceae

Growth Habit: Erect, up to 1m but usually smaller. Leaves alternate, triangular, apex pointed, margin toothed.

Type of Plant: Fat Hen is a fast-growing erect annual. Germination generally occurs in Spring and Autumn, and will also occur in Summer where suitable rainfall or irrigation is present.

Flowers: Greyish – green, forming in clusters.

Cotyledons: Narrow-oval, apex round, hairless.

Fruit/Seed: Large quantities of small green to grey seeds are produced.

Dispersal: Seeds are readily dispersed by soil movement. Wind may also move seeds small distances from the parent.

Distribution: Fat Hen is a widespread weed throughout Tasmania, occurring in home gardens, horticultural and agricultural crops, and waste areas. It frequently invades new pastures.

Status: Chenopodium album is not a declared weed in Tasmania.

Weed Impact:

  • Fat Hen can compete vigorously with seedlings and establishing crops. Infestations may be very dense and can severely reduce harvest quantities.
  • Several generations may occur in one season due to the plant’s quick growth and seed production abilities.

Control Methods:

  • Manual removal, particularly whilst plants are young, is effective as fat hen generally produces a shallow root system.
  • Mulching is an excellent method to prevent germinating seeds from establishing.
  • Cultivation may be useful, again as the plant’s shallow root system is easily dislodged from the soil and the plant quickly dries out in warm weather.
  • Several herbicides are registered for use in Tasmania including glyphosate, MCPA, bromoxynil, glufosinate and 2,4-D. Note: All 2,4-D products have restrictions of use and may need permits. Visit DPIPWE website for details or call 03 6777 2133

N.B. Always check the herbicide label before use.