An annual plant, it grows to 1-2 m high and spreads to 1 m across. The stem is erect, succulent and without hairs and they often have soft mealy lumps which can be rubbed off. The leaves are simple, with one at each node, and occurring alternately up the stem. The leaves are oval and wedge shaped with saw like edges, 5-12 cm long by 3-10 cm wide. The leaf stalk is usually shorter than the leaf blade.
As A Soil Indicator:
Very low phosphorous, Very high Potassium, High Sulphur
Annual. Germination occurs from spring to autumn depending on soil moisture. It grows rapidly through summer and autumn especially in irrigated crops or moist areas. It then dies quickly after maturity. Very small plants may flower.
Relatively palatable fodder. Vegetable, young leaves eaten raw or boiled in prehistoric times and during the famine of World War 2 in Europe. Flour from the seeds was used for baking. A green dye is obtained from the young shoots. The crushed fresh roots are a mild soap substitute.
May contain high levels of oxalate and nitrate.
Seed Biology and Germination:
2.5 % of buried seed was viable after 9.7 years .Buried seed can remain viable in soil for 30-40 years. Fluctuating temperatures are required to break dormancy.