This perennial vegetable has multiple uses. The leaves can be cooked like spinach and the seeds are an edible grain. Related to quinoa, good king Henry is also known as poor mans asparagus. The origin of the name is still a mystery-although one source states that the Germans named it and the English added “King" to it. It has been around in cultivation for a few hundred years but has never gained what would be considered 'spinach status'. Everyone wants spinach status-nutritious but don't make a candy out of it.
This plant needs a rich fertile soil to become vigorous enough to produce lots of leaves. The leaves contain a small amount of saponin so it is best to put in boiling water for a minute or so and then rinse the leaves to lower this compound. We have grown this plant many years and it wasn't until we started to really grow it vigorously did we realize what a luscious looking perennial green. Harvesting it in the early spring is the best bet for flavor and low saponin content. The leaves alone look a little bit like a hosta leaf-very clean and dark green. Considered hardy in zone 3.
|Genus & Species||Chenopodium bonus-henricus|
|Soil||Best in high organic soils. Does well in moist soil.|
|Climate||Zone 3-7. Not sure of southern limit.|
|Ease of Cultivation||No apparent insect damage. Huge production of greens can be had. Like other chenopodiums (quinoa) this species is a 'bonus' to own and use.|