Fat Hen

©Philip Precey

Fat hen

Scientific name: Chenopodium album
Fat hen is a persistent 'weed' of fields and gardens, verges and hedgerows. But, like many of our weed species, it is a good food source for birds and insects.

Species information

Statistics

Height: up to 1m

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

June to October

About

Fat hen is a common plant that grows in gardens and arable fields, along roadside verges and hedgerows, and in many other habitats - it is so frequent, it is often considered to be a weed. Spikes of whitish flowers appear from June to October and the seeds are popular food for farmland birds such as Yellowhammer, Greenfinch and Linnet.

How to identify

Fat hen is an upright plant with matt green, diamond-shaped leaves and spikes of small, white flowers. The whole plant tends to be covered in a white, mealy substance.

Distribution

Widespread.

Did you know?

As a member of the spinach family, it's no surprise that Fat Hen was a popular food in times past - it has even been confirmed as part of the last meal of a man who died 2,400 years ago in Europe, and whose body was preserved in a peat bog.

How people can help

The Wildlife Trusts work closely with farmers and landowners to ensure that our wildlife is protected and to promote wildlife-friendly practices. By working together, we can create Living Landscapes: networks of habitats stretching across town and country that allow wildlife to move about freely and people to enjoy the benefits of nature. Support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.