Plants of
South Australia
Chenopodium desertorum ssp. desertorum
Desert Goosefoot,
Frosted Goosefoot
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Regional Species Conservation Assessments per IBRA subregion.
Least concern
Near threatened
Critically endangered
Data deficient
Coober Pedy
Mount Gambier
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Botanical art

Kath Alcock paintings: 2

Prior names

Chenopodium microphyllum var. desertorum

Common names

Desert Goosefoot

Frosted Goosefoot


Chenopodium from the Greek 'chen' meaning goose and 'pod' meaning foot, referring to the shape of the leaves in some species. Desertorum from the Greek 'desertorum' meaning to grow in deserts.

Distribution and status

Found across drier South Australia except on the Yorke Peninsula, Kangaroo Island, southern Mount Lofty Ranges and the South-east growing in mallee and dry woodland. Also found in Western Australia, Northern Territory, New South Wales and Victoria.. Native. Common in South Australia. Uncommon in the other States.
Herbarium regions: North Western, Lake Eyre, Nullarbor, Gairdner-Torrens, Flinders Ranges, Eastern, Eyre Peninsula, Northern Lofty, Murray, Yorke Peninsula
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)

Plant description

Annual or perennial herb, prostrate to erect much branched herb to 20 cm high. Leaves densely covered when young with colourless glistening transparent disc hairs, opposite or alternate, triangular, hastate or elliptic to 8 mm long. Inflorescence congested or lax, narrow-pyramidal or slender, exceeding the terminal leaves; flowers to 2 mm diameter, perianth with a felty indumentum of glistening vesicular hairs. Flowering in summer. Fruits are fruit enveloped by perianth; pericarp membranous to succulent. Seeds are black globular reniform seed to 1.5 mm diameter, almost smooth to slightly rugulose or striate. Seed embryo type is peripheral.

Seed collection and propagation

Collect seeds between January and December. Collect fruit-heads that are maturing, turning pale brown firm black seeds inside. Place the fruits-heads in a tray and leave to dry for one to two weeks. Then gently rub the fruits with your fingers or a rubber bung to dislodge the seeds. Use a sieve to seperate the unwanted material. Store the seeds with a desiccant such as dried silica beads or dry rice, in an air tight container in a cool and dry place. This species has physiological dormancy that needs to be overcome for the seed to germinate (e.g. nicking or softening the seed coat). Germination 89%, seed scarified (covering structure removed and seed coat chipped), on 1% w/v agar supplemented with 101mg/L potassium nitrate, 12/12 dark/light, 16°C. See

Germination table: