Know your Good King Henry

  • Good King Henry (Chenopodium bonus henricus) is a little know and much neglected crop, also known as Poor-man's Asparagus, Perennial Goosefoot, Lincolnshire Spinach or Markery.

  • Eaten raw or cooked, it was once an important leaf vegetable which has now been supplanted by the cultivated spinach, despite containing substantially more nutrients. Colonies of the plant may be found on medieval sites in England and Wales. 

  • Good King Henry is a perennial that grows to about 2 feet high.

  • It is a species of goosefoot which is native to much of central and southern Europe, but which can be grown in England as a perennial in warm areas or in colder regions as an annual.

  • The leaves can be cooked as spinach and they can be eaten raw in salads. 

  • The young shoots are very good tied together in bundles and cooked and eaten like asparagus.

  • Sow outdoors between late spring and late summer in rich soil.

  • Best avoided or used with caution if suffering from rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity.

  • For household purposes, the entire plant can be fed to poultry to help 'fatten them up'. Chickens especially seem to have a special fondness for Good King Henry.