Galinsoga

Galinsoga – Galinsoga parviflora

Description

This leafy, upright, summer annual has the common name used by my Dad ‘gallant soldier’ and is cursed as an invasive weed, yet it is valued as a pot herb in other parts of the world. I find it a pretty plant with its pointed, oval yellowish-green leaves in opposite pairs that are toothed and pointed with hairs on the leaf margins and stems.  It has small flowers in clusters that have five white petals – three lobed at the tips with yellow centres called disc florets (right). galensogaflowers

Flowering from October-April it likes to grow amongst your vegetables and flowers in cultivated land, pasture and waste places in sun and partial shade. It is named after a man called M.M. Galinsoga an 18th Century Spanish physician; parviflora is Latin for small flowers.

It is not that common all over NZ yet but once you have it in the garden it is usually there to stay. It is native to South America and known as Guascas in Colombia, being an essential ingredient in Bogota chicken and potato stew/soup called ajiaco.

Nutritional Qualities

You can use the leaves especially of young plants seen above, stems and even the flowers in smoothies, salads, stews, steamed or juiced and mixed with other juices. It is mild in flavour and can be dried for winter use.  Galinsoga is another remedy (along with plantain and dock) for neutralizing the sting of nettles.  It is astringent in its action and can be used to help clot the blood of cuts and wounds.

In 100gm of this plant there are 3.2g protein and 1.1g of fiber (compared to spinach which has 2.9g protein and 2.6g of fiber).  It is high in calcium: 284mg per 100gm (parsley 140mg), Vitamin A or beta carotene, magnesium, potassium, zinc, B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), and Vitamin C as ascorbic acid.

In a 2007 study at the University of  KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa, 16 herbs were studied for possible ACE inhibitors. ACE inhibitors, which are also made synthetically by drug companies to treat high blood pressure, help prevent hypertension and cardiovascular disease. One of the herbs found to exhibit ACE inhibitors and so help improve blood flow was Galinsoga parviflora or guascas. (Chenopodium album  or Fat Hen was another) Recent studies have also demonstrated the antioxidants and phenolic compounds present in guascas can inhibit high blood sugar levels or hyperglysemia and also hypertension galensogasmoothieassociated with type 2 diabetes. Source:

http://herbs-herbal-supplements.knoji.com/herbs-guascas-or-gallant-soldier-history-culinary-uses-and-nutrition/

The photo right shows a thick patch of galinsoga with Circulation smoothie in the middle

47 Responses to “Galinsoga”

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  1. Karen Koper says:

    Thanks for the info. I’m in the northeast US and have a garden full of galinsoga. I’ve eaten them before cooked and they were very good. I was wondering about the nutritional value and you answered my question. It’s kind of interesting that a weed in my garden is also pervasive on the other side of the world. Guess that’s why they call it the gallant soldier.

    • Julia says:

      Lovely to have your comments. Thank you for sharing and yes the name is apt isn’t it for gallantly spreading everywhere.

  2. Paul Mallett says:

    Thanks for your info

    I’m in southern Canada and could never find the name or description of this weed, I eat all types but wanted to have a positive match for this one. I will take your advice and dry them over the winter.

    Paul

    • Julia says:

      Good to hear from you Paul – very glad you were able to identify galinsoga – good idea to dry it for winter use. We’re just moving into spring so they will be popping up again with us soon.

  3. Mary says:

    I am wondering where I can buy galinsoga plant. My husband and I lived in Bogota, Colombia, and fell in love with Ajiaco. I know that I can buy them dried from “Amigo Foods. com. However, I will still like to grow them myself.

    Thanks

  4. Hamish says:

    Crikey! I have had the thing for all of this century and hate it with a passion. So… its good to have a name for it instead of the DYFW (dreaded yellow flowering weed) and nice to see that we can eat the thing. As soon as a crop next appears I will not only dig it out but also try gnashing it. Now need the Bogota Chicken recipe.

  5. Julia says:

    HI Hamish, great to hear from you and so glad the plant now has a name in your garden. I think we feel that the plants are going to take over, but this one is quite pretty, good for insects, doesn’t get very tall and easy to pull out if you have to. But another amazing feature is that it they’ve done research and found it lowers high blood pressure. I agree it spreads a lot but I never worry about it now and it disappears completely in winter. I did see that recipe for Bogota stew – I think I googled it, in case you want to find it. I haven’t tried it yet myself but want to.

  6. tatiana says:

    Hello, I am from Colombia and have been trying to find some seeds or the plant to grow them myself. If someone can suggest a place to get them I will be extremely thankful!

  7. Carolyn says:

    I am also looking for the plant or seeds of Galinsoga parviflora. Any ideas of a source for either?
    Thank you.

  8. James says:

    Do you know if galinsoga has oxalic acid in it?

  9. Julia says:

    HI James, galensoga is in the aster family of plants along with dandelions. Dandelions do not have oxalic acid and it is my experience that nor does galensoga. If I have too much oxalic acid I get a dry throat and I don’t get that with galensoga.
    Thank you for your question it is a good one!! Best wishes, Julia

  10. Bruce Hoffman says:

    Been gardening in the same spot for 17-18 years. Three years ago I got some cow manure and also got this weed. Ive been trying to get rid of it for three years. Now I find out people want it? People eat it? this stuff grows like crazy! I guess im going to have to try eating it. Its easy to grow,LOL. Named Gallant Soldier,this stuff will march all over. Wonder if you can make a tea out of it. 😉 ,Northern Indiana. Thanks Julia

    • Julia says:

      I’m sure you can make tea of it. Sorry took SO long to reply to you!! Have you tried eating gallant soldier in the meantime?? It is growing now in NZ (Dec) and I enjoy it in smoothies but steams and in salads too. Happy experimenting!

  11. Saulo villamizar says:

    Where can i bay seeds

  12. Saulo villamizar says:

    Where can i buy galinsoga parviflora seeds?

  13. Julia says:

    I have seeds of galensoga you can buy. Where do you live? I am in New Zealand.

  14. Heidi says:

    Hi I’m Heidi and live in Southern California. Very useful info! A question: Why does My galinsoga only have the yellow florets but is missing those five petals with the gap in between? And yes, it has the black seeds that get stuck in my clothes. The leaves looks so healthy I want to eat them!

    • Julia says:

      Hi Heidi, sorry for slow reply! I honestly don’t know the answer to why your plant doesn’t have the gaps in the petals. There may be different varieties but I am not familiar with other varieties. I will look on the website called plants for a future and you could too. It is a great resource. Best wishes

  15. Lizelle says:

    Hi Julia:)

    I have been looking for info on this plant and found your site very interesting.

    I am combating septoria leave spot on my nightshades. I will finish of with this crop and then rotate next year with something more resistant to this as my garden is currently a battle field.

    Gallant soldiers are marching all over the tomato garden and I need to know, since the battle of septoria will continue next year, are they prove to get infected too? Will the soldiers take the spores to their graves resulting in diseased resurections?

    • Julia says:

      HI Lizelle I don’t believe the galensoga will take the spores to the ground when they die but the nightshades will. Good luck combatting the septoria. Do you compost your garden? You might need to build up the humus levels and the microorganisms to get the balance right.

  16. Julia says:

    I don’t know the answer to that question, i will ask a gardening expert though.

  17. Angelica Lonergan says:

    I am from Bogota, Colombia. I use “guascas” to make ajiaco. It is the most important ingredient for this soup. I would love to have the galinsoga in my yard. My husband loves it. I live in the Northeast of USA. It will be nice is somebody has the seeds I will like to buy. Thanks.

  18. Angelica Lonergan says:

    I am from Bogota, Colombia. I use “guascas” to make ajiaco. It is the most important ingredient for this soup. I would love to have the galinsoga in my yard. My husband loves it. I live in the Northeast of USA. It will be nice is somebody has the seeds I will like to buy. Thanks.

  19. Julia says:

    HI Angelica thank you for writing to me great to hear from you and to know you like this plant and use it in ajiaco! I have seeds but I live in New Zealand and I don’t know if I am allowed to send you seeds with border controls etc. Ask a friend to send you some from Colombia would be the best – or if someone is visiting Colombia get them to bring you some back. It has lots of seeds and is easy to collect. The seeds are very small. Its a great plant I love it. All the best finding some.

  20. Justin says:

    Hi Julie,

    I’m in Melbourne, Australia and would love to buy some Galinsoga seeds from
    You if that’s possible?

  21. Maria villegas says:

    Please!!! Somebody in the states that sell me a plant of galisonga to make ajiaco!!!! It’s delicious and the plant dry it’s not the same

  22. Mike says:

    Hi

    I live in the UK

    This plant has taken over my veg plot in the last few years , you can have as much as you want

    Mike , UK

    • Julia says:

      Hi Mike I hope you are eating it as it is such a good vegetable to steam, put young plants in salad or smoothies or soups or stews as they do in Colombia. Maybe you could sell some to a local restaurant who would like to include wild foods? Or you could dry it for use as powder. Once it has gone to flower it is not so good for eating. How do you view it? Do you mind it taking over?

  23. Norma Coles says:

    This plant just came up this year in my garden. I know for a fact I did not “plant’ it.
    Glad to find info on this. Thanks!

  24. Randy Peterson says:

    Can you please send me 2 dozen seeds?
    I live in Sunnyvale, CA

  25. Bruce Hoffman says:

    Anyone wanting this weed is invited to come pick it out of my garden where it grows very well. I have eaten it sauteed and it tastes a little like white asparagus. They sell it on amazon.com. One flower has around 900 or more seeds,and one plant has about 300,000 seeds.It arrived in my garden with some manure and has thrived. Now the only problem is how to get rid of it. I can’t eat it in that high volume.Hoe it and it re roots itself. The only way to get rid of it is maybe leave your garden bare and roundup the whole mess. You have to wash the hoes,rakes,tillers and all garden implements to get rid of even the smallest chance of a seed hitching a ride to your lawn or other places. No wonder they call it Gallant Soldier…

    • Julia says:

      Hello Bruce, wow those statistics are incredible. No wonder it is so good at spreading. We have it going out into the paddocks of pasture where it is bare (and it is filling an empty niche), but it doesn’t survive winter. Ok so you want to get rid of it. I have two ideas: one is the idea of peppering it. This is a method people using Biodynamic principles use to get rid of pests. You burn the dry plant material and then make a homeopathic remedy through dilution and spray it on the garden and it works. The other idea is to gather a whole lot and soak it in a barrel until it dissolves and then dilute that and spray it back on the area. I know a man who had a farm infested with ragwort (which cows and we can’t eat) and he soaked it, and then sprayed it back on the land and he does not now have it. Ragwort shows a copper deficiency the ragwort grew to correct it. Galensoga is providing calcium to the soil, so adding lime to your garden could be a further way to deter it. Google further on how to do it. Spraying is a toxic solution – there are other ways to approach it and save adding poison to your environment. Good Luck!!!

  26. UKZN Stafff says:

    Good day

    I have this recent interest in edible weeds and happened to come across this page while searching. Thanks for the excellent information!

    I was also pleasantly surprised to see a reference to the institution where I work (please note that the name in the article is incomplete, it is the University of KwaZulu-Natal).

    Keep up the good work. I plan to use your site to look up more!

    • Julia says:

      Hello UKZN Staff and thank you very much for taking the time to write and give me good feedback on this article. I really appreciate it and I also appreciate the correction of the Univeristy of KwaZulu-Natal’s name. Thank you for that.

  27. Bruce Hoffman says:

    Thanks Julia,I have found recipes on it ,can’t seem to find the recipe on Italian foods anymore. It has more nutrients then spinach. I don’t like it raw. Never tried it in Bogota Chicken. Its called Guascas in a lot of web sites.Poisonous to goats it seems,cause I thought about getting a couple goats,probably why the deer don’t eat it. Just keep tilling the garden for now,tilling and hoeing. Need to pull pull pull.Its coming across the boarded lane and trying to take residence in the yard,LOL,If a person could grow some and contain it in specified location ,it could be quite handy.

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