The greenish stems tend to turn red as they mature, and although most species of pigweed grow upright, prostrate pigweed (Amaranthus blitoides and Amaranthus blitoides) grows along the ground. The flower spikes are probably the plant's most identifiable trait. Edible amaranth is often grown for the plentiful tiny seeds that hang in tassels from the top of the plant after the attractive red flowers fade. In other words, it’s the ideal plant for edible landscaping. "Pigweed" is a common name for a few different plants, including lambsquarters, but the particular pigweed I'm writing about is the one whose genus is Amaranthus, also known as "amaranth.". Like buckwheat, amaranth is considered a "pseudo-cereal," which basically means it's not in the grass family like wheat and corn — it seems like a subtle difference to me but apparently pseudo-cereal seeds are not the same as "true" grains. Pigweed seeds should never be eaten raw. Helpful article! It even has medicinal qualities. Amaranthus caudatus known by common names as love-lies-bleeding, pendant amaranth, tassel flower, velvet flower, foxtail amaranth, and quilete.. Amaranths are usually planted from seeds as soon as the last frost has passed in the spring. Once the flowers have developed, let the amaranth flowers grow fully and watch carefully for the first few flowers to start dying back or browning a … The Spruce uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. As they sprout, thin the plants out to a spacing of 10 to 18 inches. Amaranth loves the heat and is drought tolerant once established. Make sure the site you choose has good drainage and air circulation. Unlike other leafy green vegetables, amaranth is fairly happy in the heat. In a plethora of spots on the map, Amaranth is viewed as a traditional garden crop – especially in South America. In terms of nutrition, "amaranth" is usually synonymous with "amaranth seed," so most of the published nutrition information refers to the seed, or amaranth flour. Although amaranth leaves are edible and a good nutrition source in their own right, many people harvest the small seeds which grow on the plants (up to 60,000 per plant) and eat them either whole or ground into flour. Once root rot occurs, the plant must be removed. When harvesting the leaves, make sure to leave the crown and some leaves around the top to continue growing. Like so many fresh Asian greens, amaranth greens need no embellishment aside from a few cloves of crushed garlic. Amaranths produce enormous quantities of tiny seeds that will rampantly self-seed around the parent plant if you don't carefully harvest the seed heads when they mature. Amaranth's/pigweed's favorite stomping grounds are disturbed areas like fields, yards, and the edges of woods. Amaranth leaves are a good source of potassium. Maybe. edible amaranth is also known as pigweed. Amaranth greens are nutritious, edible leafy vegetables of Central American origin. Of course the wickedly thorny variety is what usually volunteers in my beds. Historically, the use of amaranth as an ornamental plant is a relatively recent development. It is a traditional food of Native Americans including the … Germination generally takes 7 to 14 days. In fact, once-upon-a-time, this was the primary reason amaranth served as a staple in home cottage gardens. It’s possible that it will resprout for another harvest, though you do risk introducing pests to the open stem. Many species are native to the southern U.S. and Mexico, so you can expect it to thrive even when late spring and summer is unusually warm. Amaranth also has a propensity to accumulate nitrates and oxalates, which can make it unpalatable and unsafe for eating, especially when it grows in soil that's been over-exposed to nitrates from commercial fertilizer. You can consume them raw, stir-fried, or sauteed. Good to know by Jonathan. Smooth Amaranth flowers are short, petiole one half the lenght of the leaf to as long as the leaf. Ancient super-food? Store in clean jars or use right away. Some varieties are marketed as best for seed production, while others are bred for attractive, tasty leaves that work well in salads. If starting indoors, use a general seed-starting mix and make sure to harden off the seedlings before transplanting outdoors. If consumption is the goal, choose annual amaranth varieties marketed as edibles. Cultivated in Mexico thousands of years ago, both the leaves and seeds of amaranth are edible. Having ample potassium in the body helps move oxygen to the brain which stimulates n… Barbara Gillette is a Master Gardener, Herbalist, beekeeper, and journalist with decades of experience propagating and growing fruits, vegetables, herbs, and ornamentals. Gomphrena globosa, commonly known as globe amaranth, makhmali, and vadamalli, is an edible plant from the family Amaranthaceae.The round-shaped flower inflorescences are a visually dominant feature and cultivars have been propagated to exhibit shades of magenta, purple, red, orange, white, pink, and lilac. Maybe it's more of an acquired taste. One part seeds to two parts water is a happy medium. ... Grains are the edible seeds of plants called cereals. Young leaves can be eaten raw or cooked like spinach, sautéed, etc. This plant was widely used for food by Native Americans of the Southwest. Awesome, I'm glad it was helpful! Before they all turn brown, cut the flowers off and place them in bags, where they will dry. For greens, pick amaranth leaves from young plants avoiding larger leaves — smaller to medium-sized leaves are more tender and more nutrient-rich than their bigger counterparts. The seeds, like that of quinoa, are high in protein and taste similar to true grains grown from grass seeds. Redroot Amaranth grows as an erect, annual herb reaching a height of 9 feet. As they sprout in spring, the volunteers can be thinned out to about 10 to 18 inches apart, or carefully dug up and transplanted elsewhere. Great article! Smooth Amaranth flower Smooth Amaranth, green form. In spite of some wild rumors, all amaranth can be eaten — even glyphosate-resistant Palmer pigweed — with a couple of caveats. The seed can only be eaten when it's cooked, as it inhibits nutrient absorption when consumed raw. It seems to tolerate most soil types but it really thrives in the rich soil of a well-amended garden. By using The Spruce, you accept our, 15 Red-Flowering Plants to Consider for Your Garden, 10 Tall Annual Flowers that Make a Strong Impact, Amaranth Adds Drama to the Sunny Flower Garden. Amaranth shares a family with the common (and edible) weeds; lambsquarters and pigweed. Amaranth grains are especially good in a porridge that also contains other grains, such as millet and quinoa. Photo by Ben Werling, MSU Extension. The seeds are ready to harvest when they start falling off of the plant, usually towards middle to late summer. Tocotrienols are a form of vitamin E that may reduce cholesterol as well as your risk of heart disease, according to a study published in the 2014 addition of the journal Nutrition & Metabolism. Note that some species of amaranth leaves, particularly purple amaranth, are … Species across the genus contain concentric rings of vascular bundles, and fix carbon efficiently with a C4 photosynthetic pathway. Amaranth grows well in average soils and will grow adequately in poor soils. You can pick them as microgreens as soon as they sport two sets of true leaves, or you can wait and harvest baby leaves for fresh salads. Thanks, Jonathan! Today, flour and grain products are available on grocery shelves in the U.S. with recipes of all kinds on the internet. Keep an eye on the flowers as they bloom and then begin to die back. Picked young enough, amaranth leaves do make a good, mildly flavored steamed green, reminiscent of steamed spinach, and the flavor varies from species to species, some more bitter than others. Very rich soils are not necessary for amaranth, and may even hinder flowering and seed production. Not really. Today, most gardeners are familiar with Amaranthus species such as A. caudatus (love-lies-bleeding) as ornamental plants, and many don't even realize that amaranths are also edible plants that can be grown for the grain-like seeds and edible leaves. Or you can use a room or closet with a dehumidifier running. With their plentiful seeds, amaranth plants will readily self-seed in the garden. You often hear amaranth called an ancient grain because it was once grown and harvested by Aztec and Inca civilizations. So you can get away with growing them 10 to 18 inches apart. How does it taste? Amaranth is a hardy plant that thrives in tropical climates around the world. In many parts of the world, in South America especially, Amaranth is deemed a traditional garden vegetable crop. Introducing "One Thing": A New Video Series, The Spruce Gardening & Plant Care Review Board, The Spruce Renovations and Repair Review Board, 2 to 7 feet (depends on species and variety). Avoid using commercial pesticides with a "wait to pick" or any other type of warning regarding consumption. In reply to I’m gathering amaranth to by Anne. I’m interested in knowing how to feed ourselves and our chickens in case of disaster. copyright © 2010-2020 Wild Edible, all rights reserved | Privacy Policy | Terms & Conditions. However, a notable … Flowers vary interspecifically from the presence of 3 or 5 tepals and stamens, whereas a 7-porate pollen grain structure remains consistent across the family. At the same time, they need enough space to provide good air circulation. key word weed. Regardless of your cultivar, amaranth leaves can be harvested at any point. You can harvest both leaves and grain from any amaranth, but if your goal is an edible plant, choose a variety based on your goals. Edible Parts. If you are eager for early harvest, you can start the seeds indoors as much as eight weeks earlier. We only link books and other products that we think would be useful to our readers. Since amaranth is such a weedy, farmer-plaguing plant, be careful harvesting in areas that may have been sprayed with toxic chemicals — or that may have absorbed high levels of nitrates from fertilizer. One to one makes a really firm consistency. Or, you can cut the whole plant down off at ground level when it is 1 to 2 feet tall. Amaranth can fall prey to many of the same pests and diseases that affect other vegetables. First cut off the entire flower head and put in a paper or fine mesh bag, and then let them dry for a week or two in a well-ventilated, shady area, like open-air barn. Amaranthus palmeri, Palmer […] Far from it, the amaranth is a nutritious plant with many health benefits. It makes a great salad ingredient after spring greens have been harvested or are bolting. For more of a soupy porridge-type texture, use one part seeds to three parts water. For one, any plant that survives the onslaught of toxic petro-pesticides will most likely harbor the toxic constituents of the pesticide and pass them on to whomever eats the plant.Amaranth also has a propensity to accumulate nitrates and oxalates, which can make it unpalatable and unsafe for eatin… The seed is very small but easy to harvest and very nutritious. Native Americans used Amaranthus species as a food source for centuries. Amaranth greens nutrition facts. Small leaves are more tender, but the larger leaves also have a full flavor. Root rot can be a problem in wet, dense soil or in periods where rainfalls are frequent and copious. The leaves are used as a typical green would be. While amaranth plants are tall, they aren’t necessarily wide or bushy. Average outdoor temps need to reach about 55 degrees Fahrenheit before planting the seedlings outdoors. In spite of some wild rumors, all amaranth can be eaten — even glyphosate-resistant Palmer pigweed — with a couple of caveats. Various wild species of amaranth are saddled with the label pigweed, particularly in North America, and several of those now feature on the list of the world’s weeds that have developed a resistance to glyphosate. In fact, excessive nitrogen will cause the plants to become leggy and less suitable for harvesting. Aztec ritual. Before that, it was foraged wild. The study also found that tocotrienols may be protective against cancer and have anti-inflammatory qualities. Flowering amaranth plants can still have their leaves harvested to eat, but you may find that the flavor changes after the amaranth plant flowers. There are some 60 amaranth species, maybe 70 (it depends on who’s counting.) According to this study, amaranth seed's protein  is similar to animal protein. The local amaranth seems to be a variety called “water hemp,” growing in wet areas. Like quinoa, amaranth is often referred to as an ancient grain because of its storied history behind the plant’s edible seeds, which loom large in Aztec lore. Amaranth is a plant that falls into one of four categories: grain, vegetable, ornamental or weed. I'd never heard of it but I just googled it. Saag, the Indian moniker for green leafy vegetables, forms an integral part of various regional cuisines in the country.Loaded with vitamins and essential minerals, it is the best way of fueling up on the season’s best offerings. there may be one or two species you read about that are endangered, but they sure as hell aren't the edible ones being mentioned here. (Apparently, the weedy types are also edible and taste much like the cultivated kinds. Oil made from Amaranth plants can be used in food preparation, body lotions, soap, and related products. The flavor is sometimes described as earthy or grassy. Read on to find out how to harvest amaranth and other information about harvesting amaranth grains. Amaranth is enjoyed by birds, insects, and also makes a great cut flower. If you are planting amaranth in containers, make sure your container is at least 10” deep. Shake the bag once they are dry, or knock the seeds loose over a cloth. It's also high in vitamin A and calcium, as well as a host of other healthful vitamins and minerals. Depending on variety, this may take several rinsings due to the amount of chaff. Learn tips for creating your most beautiful (and bountiful) garden ever. Amaranth does best in full sun in the northern part of its range, but in warm southern climates, it benefits from some shade in the afternoon. When planting outdoors, sow seeds about 4 inches apart, barely covering them with soil. Harvesting Edible Amaranth . Amaranth is an ancient grain that is loaded with healthy nutrients. This helps to keep Wild Edible online. Rinse away the dried seed “chaff” and enjoy your grain harvest. Fresh or dried pigweed leaves can be used to make tea. What Parts Of The Amaranth Plant Are Edible? Growing Amaranth in Containers. Sorting out some amaranths Amaranthus hybridus, aka Smooth Amaranth, stems can be red or green Smooth Amaranth red leaf hairy, green can be hairless. Amaranth seed has more protein and fewer carbohydrates than both buckwheat and white rice, and its protein is supposedly more complete. The differences are more or less cultural preferences, as all types are edible and highly nutritious. Amaranth is a herbaceous plant or shrub that is either annual or perennial across the genus. The bulk seed is uses as a "grain" in porridges or added as a thickener to soups and stews. Ancient it is, though. For one, any plant that survives the onslaught of toxic petro-pesticides will most likely harbor the toxic constituents of the pesticide and pass them on to whomever eats the plant. Then sift the seeds through a strainer to remove the coarser chaff. There are around 60 species of amaranth — all have varying degrees of good-to-eatness. In reply to Great article! Looks like its Latin name is Amaranthus tuberculatus. Edible Parts. I’m gathering amaranth to collect seed to feed my chickens. See the USDA's amaranth seed nutrition table for a full list of nutrients. Pigweed is one of the common names given to a clutch of Amaranth species that crash parties where they are not wanted. Many parts of the plants, including the leaves and seeds, are edible, and are frequently used as a source of food in India and South America – where it is the most important Andean species of Amaranthus, known as kiwicha. North America is home to both native and introduced species of pigweed -- at least one species can be found throughout the entire continent. For the casual forager, though, amaranth leaves are more accessible and require little processing effort compared with the seed. Both the leaves and stems are edible. Cook young tender pigweed leaves as you would spinach; steam or sauté/stir-fry in butter or oil. To cook, add to boiling water and simmer uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes. You can harvest both leaves and grain from any amaranth, but if your goal is an edible plant, choose a variety based on your goals. I have it growing all over my garden and I've just been pulling it out and throwing it in my compost pile but I think I'll start harvesting it to eat. Every part of the amaranth plant is edible: roots, seeds, stem, leaves, and flowers. Even though the leaves of all 60 varieties are edible, some do boast prickly spines that have to be removed before preparing as a food. Within the flowerheads, the true flowers are small and inconspicuous. If you want to harvest the plants for seeds, it will take about 12 weeks for the plants to reach full maturity. Harvesting Amaranth Plants. Only dense clay soils are likely to be completely unsuitable for amaranth. Spiny amaranth has edible leaves and might be a medicine and sex aid. You’ll want to cultivate larger plants specifically grown for their seeds if you want the amaranth grain. The tiny flowers of amaranth grow by the hundreds along the stem and are easily recognized in fields where they emerge above crops like cotton. Palmer's amaranth is native to the southwest U.S. and Mexico, but it has aggressively expanded its range, becoming invasive in many parts of the world. Angela England is the author of "Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less)," and edits the online publication Blissfully Domestic. The greens are similar to spinach, beet greens, and chard — they're all in the same family, Amaranthaceae — but amaranth has more than twice as much vitamin C as kale and four times more than spinach. For those with celiac disease, milled amaranth is a gluten-free flour substitute. [tweet_quote] Amaranth is a vibrantly colored plant, and both its seeds and leaves are edible. But those sold as edible varieties are selected for their good seed production and especially tasty leaves. Amaranth is related to a common weed you probably know, pigweed. Amaranth plant grows wildly hence the natural tendencies to write it off as a weed. And unlike a lot of gluten-free wheat alternatives, it's really good for you. This amaranth has nutritious, flavorful foliage with a hearty spinach flavor that is sweet and slightly tangy. This works better if you have mesh bags. If you find lambsquarters, you're likely to find amaranth growing nearby, as they're similar plants and do well in similar conditions. A proper history of amaranth would fill an entire book (or several). Leaves can be harvested within a few weeks of outdoor planting. The stems are usually smooth or slightly hairy except for spiny pigweed (Amaranthus spinosus), which has thorns — I first discovered this when unsuspectingly weeding my garden with bare hands. It was a main staple of the Aztecs and was cultivated by them as long as 8,000 years ago. Amaranths don't require any feeding. Pigweed plants can grow to over six feet high with alternating oval to diamond-shaped leaves that may be up to six inches long. Amaranth Recipe Ideas. Many Asian and African dishes make use of amaranth greens. it will grow even for people who don't want it. When the seeds are dry and ready to separate, either thresh by rubbing the flower heads in your hands over a container, or by gently beating the bags of flower heads with a stick. The botanical genus name, Amaranthus , (am-a-RANTH-us) comes from the Greek word “amarandos, (Αμάραντος) which means non-fading, since its flowers last a long time. The seeds are a grain that can be eaten. Inflorescences of Powell amaranth (left) and purple amaranth (right). The weedy amaranth types are also edible and taste much like the cultivated varieties. Like these weeds it readily grows in cultivated soil and will self-sow easily if allowed to go to seed. Pigweed has a mild flavour and is often mixed with stronger flavoured leaves. To collect seeds to make flour simply lay the seed heads on a cloth and dry them in the sun for a couple of days. Steam, stir-fry, saute, or mix with spaghetti sauce, rice, or meatloaf. amaranth is an entire group of plants. Overview Information Amaranth is a plant. Nearly all amaranths are edible, including love-lies-bleeding and even the common road-side weedy forms. Presently, its growth is mainly concentrated in tropical climates of Latin Americas, Asia and Africa. These are very easy-to-grow plants, as befits a genus with many species that grow as roadside native plants. Some varieties are marketed as best for seed production, while others are bred for attractive, tasty leaves that work well in salads. To harvest grains, let the plant go all the way to flower. I have a friend who prefers amaranth over lambsquarters for flavor, though. Be aware, though, that if the original plants were hybrids, the volunteer seedlings may not "come true" and may look different than the parent plant. Amaranth isn't fussy about soil types. As greens go, most folks consider amaranth better than acceptable but probably not what you would call "top shelf". Don't overwater, or you run the risk of root rot or fungal diseases. See the USDA's amaranth leaves nutrition table for details. Pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus), is a close relative of amaranth and considered a weed but can be used in much the same way as amaranth. I love "weeds" that can go straight into the harvest basket with the rest of the food crops! The seed, oil, and leaf are used as food. The flowers eventually dry out and yield tiny husked seeds which may then be harvested. You can also use the leaves of amaranth as a leafy vegetable; the taste is similar to spinach and they can be used in the same way as many of the leafy vegetables, especially in mixed-green salads. Here is a detailed look at amaranth and its health benefits. Amaranth plants have average needs for water (no more than 1 inch per week). Aphids and flea beetles are common; insecticidal soaps are a good remedy for the former, and floating row covers will protect the plants from the latter. All amaranth foliage, which ranges from green to yellow, orange and red, like Hopi red dye amaranth (Amaranthus cruentus x A. powelli), is edible. Many of these types of pesticides are broad spectrum designed to eliminate multiple insect pests and may contain ingredients that aren't meant to be ingested by humans. Amaranth seed or grain is also edible when toasted or milled into flour. It's also possible to collect some of the seeds in fall and replant them the following spring. The closer you can get them, the better they look once fully grown. Thanks for your support! Amaranth is a wonderfully versatile plant that’s a beautiful flower, a delicious vegetable, and a nutritious grain all in one. Good to know pigweed is so nutritious! I frequently see it on the edges of fields and parks. The Amaranthus genus is a complicated one, featuring at least 75 annual and perennial species that easily cross-breed and hybridize. The edible leaves are known as Chinese spinach. Palmer amaranth, aka Palmer pigweed (Amaranthus Palmeri), one of the better known species, has a reputation for being an invasive weed that plagues cotton and soybean fields in the South. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. Affiliate Disclaimer: In some cases, we use affiliate links, which means we get a small (tiny) commission if you make a purchase after clicking a link. One of the amaranth seed's most attractive traits, in an era of anti-wheat, is simply the fact that amaranth is gluten-free. Amaranth has another edible advantage: the leaves can be harvested as a vegetable. Amaranth leaves and grains were one of the staple foods of Aztecs and Incas in pre-Columbian times. Cooked amaranth seeds are sort of nutty. Amaranth is a broad-leafed, edible plant that some say may hold the answer to improving diet in the world's most obese country—Mexico. I'm partial to its cousin, lambsquarters, but amaranth leaves are definitely worth foraging. Amaranth grows well in any average well-drained soil, but it will struggle in dense clay soils. pseudo-cereal seeds are not the same as "true" grains. To ensure continued production, it's a good idea to stagger planting every two to three weeks, beginning a week or two after the last frost date in your region. Large size and heat won’t turn amaranth leaves bitter, as often occurs with other leafy greens. The younger the leaves and stems the better. Or rather, the pigweeds (there are different kinds) are amaranth species. Not only are its leaves delectable, its seeds are also edible and nutritious as well. The seeds are extremely nutritious and protein-packed with a slightly nutty flavor. Including Amaranthus retroflexus (red root pigweed), A. spinosus (spiny pigweed), A. palmeri (Palmer’s pigweed), and A. hybridus (rough pigweed), these uninvited agricultural and garden guests are so ubiquitous that they seldom invite closer scrutiny from farmers … Andrey Zharkikh / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0. First, remember that amaranth produces edible leaves, similar in taste to spinach. The entire plant is used to make medicine. But, in technical terms, amaranth seeds aren't really grain. Sushila Chaudhari , MSU Department of Horticulture’s new edible specialty crops weed scientist, will be investigating the distribution of this weed species in Michigan as well as the biology and control options available. Varieties of amaranth can range from giants topping 8 feet to smaller 1- to 2-foot plants better suited for leaf harvest only. 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As roadside native plants native and introduced species of amaranth — all have varying degrees of good-to-eatness or., remember that amaranth is a vibrantly colored plant, and leaf are used as food in to. Heat and is drought tolerant once established even hinder flowering and seed production, while others bred! Lambsquarters, but amaranth leaves are is amaranth edible accessible and require little processing effort compared with the rest of the foods... And especially tasty leaves that work well in any average well-drained soil, but it will even. To 2 feet tall well as a typical green would be the closer can... Lot of gluten-free wheat alternatives, it 's really good for you of fields and parks ground level it...
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