home   about   search

biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Chenopodium quinoa (Quinoa)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Core Eudicots > Order: Caryophyllales > Family: Amaranthaceae; > Subfamily: Chenopodioideae > Genus: Chenopodium

Quinoa grain. [photo H. Robertson, Iziko ]


An annual herb growing to 2 m in height that originates from South America. It was the staple grain of the Inca people, with archaeological remains dating back to 5000 BC. In recent years it has become popular as a health food because it has a high protein content (14-18%), it is gluten-free and it is rich in lysine and methionine. Seeds need to be first soaked, washed and rubbed to remove bitter substances (saponins) in the seed coat. Seeds can be cooked and eaten, or roasted and ground into flour that can be used for making pastas, pancakes and other foods.


  • van Wyk, B.-E. 2005. Food Plants of the World - Identification, Culinary Uses and Nutritional Value. Briza, Pretoria.