Hat Hen, Lamb's quarters or Goosefoot

Fat Hen (Chenopodium album)


Fat Hen is also known as White Goosefoot or Common Lamb’s Quarters in Australia.

 After you read this, you will be able to:

  • Know what Fat Hen or Goosefoot looks like
  • Know what conditions favour Goosefoot or Lamb’s Quarters.
  • Have a good idea of the best cultural and chemical options to control Fat Hen.


More information on lawn weeds is in our weed ID chart. What weeds reveal about soil conditions is in our blog on indicator weeds. Lambsquarter thrives in low phosphorus, and high potassium soils.



Fat Hen Identification.

White Goosefoot is a tall, heavy seeding annual or biennial herbaceous plant. It prefers high rainfall, temperate to sub-tropical conditions, and only reproduces by seed.

Seeds germinate in the spring and continue through the summer and into autumn.

It can become a big problem if it grows too large, as it competes with turf for light, nutrients and moisture. In some cases, it can choke turf. The taproot is short and branched and it has a moderate level of drought tolerance.

Category:  Broadleaf (Dicot).

Flower: Unobtrusive flowers are in clusters and often green or white. In some cases flowering occurs in the spring but it mainly occurs in the late Summer and Autumn.
Height: It grows from 20 cm to 2 metres in height.
Leaf length: The leaves of Fat Hen are 2 to 6 cm long.

Leaf Width: The leaves are 1-7cm wide.
Reproduction: Fat Hen reproduces by seed.
Comments: The leaves are oval to trowel-shaped, and the edges have teeth or irregular lobes. They vary in colour often being blue or grey/green and may have a powdery surface. It is a heavy seeding weed and can produce up to 75,000 seeds per plant. These seeds can remain viable for several decades.

Habitat: This weed has a preference for well-drained high pH soils but can also grow on low pH soils.




How to Remove Fat Hen.

You can use cultural and chemical controls to remove Fat Hen or Goosefoot.



Cultural control.

Good cultural practices are important. Feeding your turf and making sure that you mow at the right height of cut will discourage Fat Hen. The increase in turf density results in lower numbers of plants, and fewer seeds. Common Lambs Quarters is intolerant of heavy shade, especially shortly after germination.

Hand weeding is practical if the problem is not widespread. This includes digging plants out or pulling large plants out by hand. Take off site any flowering Fat Hen plants you remove by hand, and don’t leave them on the surface. This ensures that viable seed isn’t left to grow back.

Common Lambs Quarters has a high demand for plant nutrients. It responds strongly to N and has a moderate response to P. Excess applications of N favour this weed relative to more desirable species. It also has a strong response to high K levels, and it is strongly competitive when K levels are high. So limit N and K where possible.



Chemical control.


Several turf herbicides control Fat Hen or Common Lamb’s Quarters, such as those containing MCPA. Treatment is best no later than 3 weeks after emergence. After this, the weeds become woody and tricky to control.