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Whole Allergen

w10 Goosefoot, Lamb's quarters

w10 Goosefoot, Lamb's quarters Scientific Information


Whole Allergen

Display Name:

Goosefoot, Lamb's quarters

Route of Exposure:



Amaranthaceae (Chenopodiaceae)


Chenopodium album

Latin Name:

Chenopodium album

Other Names:

Common lamb’s quarters, White goosefoot


Goosefoot (Chenopodium album) is a wind-pollinated, annual plant that usually grows to a height of around 0.1-1.5 m. The pollination period of this plant typically initiates from July and extends till September. A goosefoot plant can produce around 20,000 pollen grains in a season. This plant is prevalently found in brush burns, cultivated fields, desert grasslands, juniper-pine forests, overgrazed lands, and logged openings. This species (Chenopodium album) is claimed to originate from Eurasia; however, it is presently naturalized all over North America. The pollen from this plant can induce allergic conditions such as conjunctivitis, allergic rhinitis, and asthma. Goosefoot weed pollen allergens Che a 1, Che a 2, and Che a 3 have been identified and listed in the IUIS database. Goosefoot pollen exhibits cross-reactivity with other members of the Chenopodiaceae family, alder, birch pollen, black locust, lilac, sugar beet, timothy grass, and olive.



Goosefoot (Chenopodium album) is an annual, wind-pollinated plant that usually attains a height of around 0.1-1.5 m and 3-3.5 m in exceptional cases. This plant's stem is straight, smooth, varied in color (green, red, or purple), with furrows along its length. The leaves are broad, triangle, or rhombic-shaped, around 15 cm in length with irregular serrated edges and white scales on leaves, especially underneath the surface. The leaves of young plants are oval with the opposite arrangement; with aging, these leaves space out in alternate arrangement and develop purple color with white granules. The flowers are bisexual (hermaphrodite), green (without petals), and formed in dense clusters. The seeds of this plant are reported to be small, disc, or arch-shaped with a diameter of around 1.5 mm. This plant can approximately produce 20,000 pollen grains during one season (1). Pollination usually takes place from July to September; however, at some places, it has been reported to initiate in May and continue up to November (2). This plant is a food source for livestock and even consumed as a cooking herb or salad. Additionally, the seeds of this plant are also utilized to prepare dark flour for gruel or bread (2). 


Goosefoot weed can be found in cultivated fields, juniper-pine forests, overgrazed lands, desert grasslands, logged openings, and brush burns (2). This plant thrives in both temperate and tropical regions; it is extensively prevalent in semi-arid areas. It can grow in a wide range of soil conditions ranging from strongly acidic to alkaline; however, calcareous soil has been reported as the preferred one. The optimal growth conditions required for this plant include intense sunlight in the summer season, hot temperature conditions, slight precipitation, high evaporation, and elevated soil salinity (1). This plant is found in various altitudes, ranging from 100 to 9,500 feet (2).


Globally, the genus Chenopodium comprises 250 species and subspecies. Approximately 25 Chenopodium species have been identified as a weed in various regions of the world. Amongst these, Chenopodium album L. and Chenopodium murale L. have been recognized as the two most notable weed species. Moreover, C. album has also been reported as one of the ten widely invasive and problematic weed species (1).

Taxonomic tree of Goosefoot, Lamb’s quarters (3) 
Domain Eukaryota
Kingdom Plantae
Phylum Spermatophyta
Subphylum Angiospermae
Class Dicotyledonae 
Order Caryophyllales
Family Chenopodiaceae
Genus Chenopodium 
Species Chenopodium album (4)



The pollen grains of goosefoot (Lamb’s quarters) have been reported to be spheroidal in shape (23-34 µm in diameter). The grains are periporate, with evenly scattered pores (2-2.5 µm diameter) of around 90-140 throughout the surface. The outer layer (exine) is tectate and has a thinner endexine (inner membrane of exine) compared to the ektexine (the outer membrane of exine), connected by a short baculate rod-like structure (2). 


Worldwide distribution

The goosefoot (Lamb’s quarters) has been found to be a moderate producer of weed pollen. Specifically, in the United States (US), this plant has been found to be a significant trigger of allergic rhinitis (hay fever). Additionally, this weed is also claimed to be a crucial airborne allergen in mid-Europe (2).

A Spain-based study conducted on 362 children has reported positive skin prick test (SPT) towards Chenopodium album (goosefoot) in 10.2% of children (5).

A cross-sectional study conducted in Iran on 972 allergic patients reported chronic urticaria in 67, atopic dermatitis in 129, asthma in 224, and allergic rhinitis in 624 patients. Lamb’s quarters (goosefoot) was claimed to be one of the common aeroallergens to trigger sensitization, with a positive SPT of 50.7% among the tested population (6).

A study conducted in China on 7148 patients with allergic rhinitis (self-reported) has reported 81.5% (5080/7148) as the prevalence of sensitization towards goosefoot allergen among the study population (7). 

Environmental Characteristics

Worldwide distribution

The species Chenopodium album (goosefoot/Lamb’s quarters) has been reported to originate from Eurasia, although currently naturalized all over North America. The variants of goosefoot are claimed to be found in coastal regions of Canada, Mexico, all through Europe (2).

The species of genus Chenopodium (belonging to the Chenopodiaceae or Amaranthaceae family) has been regarded as one of the major inducers of summer associated allergy in countries (dry and temperate climate) like semi-desert regions of Iran, India, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Western Australia, and United States (8).

Route of Exposure


The route of exposure for goosefoot (Lamb’s quarters) weed pollen is through inhalation (9). 

Clinical Relevance

Pollen from wind-pollinated plants like Chenopodium album (goosefoot, Lamb’s quarters) has been observed to be one of the critical contributors of IgE-mediated Type I allergic conditions like asthma, allergic rhinitis, and conjunctivitis (10).

Allergic rhinitis (AR) and allergic rhino-conjunctivitis (ARC)

A cross-sectional study in Iran conducted on 567 allergic rhinitis patients reported a significant (p=0.035) prevalence of positive SPT towards Chenopodium album (goosefoot) in 9.6% of patients with intermittent (mild, moderate-severe) AR and 90.4% of patients with persistent (mild, moderate-severe) AR (11).

A China-based study conducted on 406 allergic rhinitis patients (with confirmed SPT towards aeroallergen) reported 61.6% of patients to exhibit positive SPT towards Chenopodium (9).

A study conducted on 179 pollen-sensitized patients (9 to 69 years) in Spain reported rhino-conjunctivitis in 29% of patients and 70% of the patients with both asthma and rhino-conjunctivitis. SPT -mediated sensitization profile revealed 65.9% (118/179) of the study population to be sensitive towards Chenopodium album (goosefoot) (12).


An Iran-based cross-sectional study conducted on 187 asthmatic patients reported a significant (p=0.003) correlation between sensitivity towards Chenopodium album (goosefoot) pollen and asthma severity (11).

A cross-sectional retrospective study was conducted on 100 asthmatic children in Saudi Arabia. The incidence of positive SPT towards Chenopodium album (goosefoot, Lamb’s quarters) pollen was reported as 23% (13).

Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS)

As per a study, pollen allergic patients with positive SPT towards Chenopodium album (goosefoot, Lamb’s quarters) pollen also reported OAS (symptoms like laryngeal edema, pharyngitis, swelling of throat, tongue, and lips, hoarseness, oral pruritus) towards fresh fruits like peach, melon, and banana (14). 

Prevention and Therapy

Prevention strategies


One of the main measures is to reduce the pollen amount in the respiratory system. During pollen season, allergic patients are suggested to stay indoors or wear a mask outdoors to keep away from pollen allergens. In worsening conditions, patients may be recommended to move or live in a pollen-free area (15).

Molecular Aspects

Allergenic molecules

Aeroallergen Che a 1, Che a 2, and Che a 3 from Chenopodium album (goosefoot) pollen have been identified and listed in the IUIS database (4).

Allergen Biochemical Name  Molecular Weight (kDa) Allergenicity
Che a 1 Ole e 1 homolog 17
A serum sample analysis was conducted on 71 patients with allergic symptoms to Chenopodium album pollen. 77% of the tested sera exhibited positive IgE reaction towards Che a 1 (16).
Che a 2 Profilin


A study was conducted on 104 sera of rhinitis and/or rhino-conjunctivitis patients with a clinical history of allergy towards Chenopodium album pollen. 55% (57/104) of the tested sera exhibited positive IgE-response towards Che a 2 (17).
Che a 3 Polcalcin


A study was performed on 104 sera of rhinitis and/or rhino-conjunctivitis patients with a clinical history of allergy towards Chenopodium album pollen. 46% (48/104) of the tested sera demonstrated positive IgE-response towards Che a 3 (17).

Biomarkers of severity

Che a 1 has been reported as a marker allergen in patients with primary sensitization towards chenopod (from the Chenopodiaceae family) (18).

Che a 2 (recombinant) can be utilized as a diagnostic tool (marker) in patients sensitized towards profilin (19).


Studies have reported strong cross-reactivity between members of the Chenopodiaceae family (20).

High cross-reactivity among polcalcin proteins from Chenopodium album (goosefoot, Lamb’s quarters), olive, timothy grass, lilac pollens have been reported (20).

Che a 2 (profilin) and Che a 3 (polcalcin) are claimed to demonstrate extensive cross-reactivity with corresponding proteins (profilin and polcalcin) found in olive pollens due to the presence of conserved amino acid sequences (20).

Extensive cross-reactivity between Che a 1 (Chenopodium album, goosefoot) and Sal k 5 (Salsola Kali) has been reported in a study (21).

Chenopodium album (goosefoot) pollen has been found to be cross-reactive with Robinia pseudoacacia (Black Locust) pollen (22).

Che a 2, profilin protein from Chenopodium album (goosefoot) pollen, has been claimed to be cross-reactive with Beta vulgaris (sugar beet) pollens (23).

Che a 3 (a polcalcin protein) from Chenopodium album (goosefoot) pollen possesses sequence identity and exhibits strong cross-reactivity with other polcalcin proteins (allergens) like Aln g 4 (Alder; 89%), Ole e 3 (Olive; 89%), and Bet v 4 (Birch; 90%). Additionally, Che a 3 was also reported to be cross-reactive to polcalcin from grass pollen (Phl p 7) (8).

Compiled By

Author: Turacoz Healthcare Solutions

Reviewer: Dr. Christian Fischer


Last reviewed: March 2021

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