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Chenopodium rubrum L. var. rubrum

Photo: Coast-blite goosefoot

Coast-blite Goosefoot

Habitat: Saltmarshes or saline soils. [Tidal wetland (non-forested, wetland)]

Range: Newfoundland to Washington, south to New England, New Jersey, and west to southern California. Considered rare in New Brunswick and New Hampshire, but not southward.

Photo: Coast-blite goosefoot

Aids to Identification: Resembles the common garden weed lamb's-quarters (C. album, an introduced species), with narrow spikes of green flowers rising out of the leaf axils. Coast-blite goosefoot, however, has leaves which are green on both sides (as opposed to the whitish leaf undersides of lamb's-quarters) and which are coarsely toothed. C. rubrum var. rubrum’s name derives from the reddish color of the late-season leaves and fruits, coloration that can also occur in C. album. Another relative found in similar habitats, orach (Atriplex patula), has leaves which are entire except for two lobes at the base. C. rubrum var. rubrum is closely related to the introduced C. rubrum var. humile. C. rubrum var. rubrum is upright, with toothed lower leaves and achenes 0.5-0.6 mm long; C. rubrum var. humile is spreading with the lower leaves entire and with the achenes 0.8_1.0 mm long.

Ecological characteristics: Can grow either on sandy frontal dunes or, less commonly, in grass- or sedge-dominated marshes back from the shore. Common dune associates include sea rocket (Cakile edentula), orach (Atriplex patula), sea-beach sandwort (Honckenya peploides), etc.

Photo: Coast-blite goosefoot

Phenology: Flowers August - November; fruits September on.

Family: Amaranthaceae

Synonyms: Introduced Chenopodium humile Hook. is now considered a variety of C. rubrum.

Known Distribution in Maine: This rare plant has been documented from a total of 6 town(s) in the following county(ies): Lincoln, Washington, York.

Dates of documented observations are: 1947, 1977 (2), 1980 (2), 1983, 1992

Reason(s) for rarity: Unclear; perhaps overlooked; near northern end of its range.

Conservation considerations: Need more information; populations could be threatened by heavy recreational use.