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. One part seeds to two parts water is a happy medium. In spite of some wild rumors, all amaranth can be eaten — even glyphosate-resistant Palmer pigweed — with a couple of caveats. 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. Amaranth grains are especially good in a porridge that also contains other grains, such as millet and quinoa. However, a notable … Good to know by Jonathan. 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 … Varieties of amaranth can range from giants topping 8 feet to smaller 1- to 2-foot plants better suited for leaf harvest only. 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. The flowers eventually dry out and yield tiny husked seeds which may then be harvested. 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. 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. But those sold as edible varieties are selected for their good seed production and especially tasty leaves. Store in clean jars or use right away. Inflorescences of Powell amaranth (left) and purple amaranth (right). How does it taste? Amaranth isn't fussy about soil types. Oil made from Amaranth plants can be used in food preparation, body lotions, soap, and related products. Large size and heat won’t turn amaranth leaves bitter, as often occurs with other leafy greens. Thanks for your support! Pigweed has a mild flavour and is often mixed with stronger flavoured leaves. It seems to tolerate most soil types but it really thrives in the rich soil of a well-amended garden. With their plentiful seeds, amaranth plants will readily self-seed in the garden. The Amaranthus genus is a complicated one, featuring at least 75 annual and perennial species that easily cross-breed and hybridize. The seeds are ready to harvest when they start falling off of the plant, usually towards middle to late summer. The seed, oil, and leaf are used as food. Looks like its Latin name is Amaranthus tuberculatus. Awesome, I'm glad it was helpful! Smooth Amaranth flower Smooth Amaranth, green form. It was a main staple of the Aztecs and was cultivated by them as long as 8,000 years ago. North America is home to both native and introduced species of pigweed -- at least one species can be found throughout the entire continent. If you are eager for early harvest, you can start the seeds indoors as much as eight weeks earlier. Amaranth greens nutrition facts. Photo by Ben Werling, MSU Extension. Ancient it is, though. Amaranth grows well in average soils and will grow adequately in poor soils. Far from it, the amaranth is a nutritious plant with many health benefits. Cook young tender pigweed leaves as you would spinach; steam or sauté/stir-fry in butter or oil. 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. 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. In many parts of the world, in South America especially, Amaranth is deemed a traditional garden vegetable crop. Amaranth is enjoyed by birds, insects, and also makes a great cut flower. Don't overwater, or you run the risk of root rot or fungal diseases. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. The flavor is sometimes described as earthy or grassy. Like so many fresh Asian greens, amaranth greens need no embellishment aside from a few cloves of crushed garlic. Leaves can be harvested within a few weeks of outdoor planting. Some varieties are marketed as best for seed production, while others are bred for attractive, tasty leaves that work well in salads. copyright © 2010-2020 Wild Edible, all rights reserved | Privacy Policy | Terms & Conditions. Unlike other leafy green vegetables, amaranth is fairly happy in the heat. Read on to find out how to harvest amaranth and other information about harvesting amaranth grains. Within the flowerheads, the true flowers are small and inconspicuous. Amaranth plants have average needs for water (no more than 1 inch per week). What Parts Of The Amaranth Plant Are Edible? 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. Amaranth grows well in any average well-drained soil, but it will struggle in dense clay soils. When harvesting the leaves, make sure to leave the crown and some leaves around the top to continue growing. 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. If consumption is the goal, choose annual amaranth varieties marketed as edibles. Flowering amaranth plants can still have their leaves harvested to eat, but you may find that the flavor changes after the amaranth plant flowers. 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 … Species across the genus contain concentric rings of vascular bundles, and fix carbon efficiently with a C4 photosynthetic pathway. Edible Parts. Learn tips for creating your most beautiful (and bountiful) garden ever. See the USDA's amaranth seed nutrition table for a full list of nutrients. To harvest grains, let the plant go all the way to flower. 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. One of the amaranth seed's most attractive traits, in an era of anti-wheat, is simply the fact that amaranth is gluten-free. 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. Pigweed seeds should never be eaten raw. In a plethora of spots on the map, Amaranth is viewed as a traditional garden crop – especially in South America. 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. Pigweed is one of the common names given to a clutch of Amaranth species that crash parties where they are not wanted. The seeds, like that of quinoa, are high in protein and taste similar to true grains grown from grass seeds. The seed is very small but easy to harvest and very nutritious. As greens go, most folks consider amaranth better than acceptable but probably not what you would call "top shelf". It’s possible that it will resprout for another harvest, though you do risk introducing pests to the open stem. Native Americans used Amaranthus species as a food source for centuries. It is a traditional food of Native Americans including the … 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. Redroot Amaranth grows as an erect, annual herb reaching a height of 9 feet. 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. 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. There are around 60 species of amaranth — all have varying degrees of good-to-eatness. Edible Parts. The seed can only be eaten when it's cooked, as it inhibits nutrient absorption when consumed raw. According to this study, amaranth seed's protein  is similar to animal protein. The flower spikes are probably the plant's most identifiable trait. Germination generally takes 7 to 14 days. 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. The younger the leaves and stems the better. In other words, it’s the ideal plant for edible landscaping. The bulk seed is uses as a "grain" in porridges or added as a thickener to soups and stews. 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. If you are planting amaranth in containers, make sure your container is at least 10” deep. Depending on variety, this may take several rinsings due to the amount of chaff. The study also found that tocotrienols may be protective against cancer and have anti-inflammatory qualities. it will grow even for people who don't want it. Of course the wickedly thorny variety is what usually volunteers in my beds. This helps to keep Wild Edible online. Amaranth Recipe Ideas. Rinse away the dried seed “chaff” and enjoy your grain harvest. Maybe. To cook, add to boiling water and simmer uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes. Today, flour and grain products are available on grocery shelves in the U.S. with recipes of all kinds on the internet. All amaranth foliage, which ranges from green to yellow, orange and red, like Hopi red dye amaranth (Amaranthus cruentus x A. powelli), is edible. As they sprout, thin the plants out to a spacing of 10 to 18 inches. Barbara Gillette is a Master Gardener, Herbalist, beekeeper, and journalist with decades of experience propagating and growing fruits, vegetables, herbs, and ornamentals. But, in technical terms, amaranth seeds aren't really grain. Fresh or dried pigweed leaves can be used to make tea. Good to know pigweed is so nutritious! Amaranth is a wonderfully versatile plant that’s a beautiful flower, a delicious vegetable, and a nutritious grain all in one. I frequently see it on the edges of fields and parks. Having ample potassium in the body helps move oxygen to the brain which stimulates n… If starting indoors, use a general seed-starting mix and make sure to harden off the seedlings before transplanting outdoors. 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. I love "weeds" that can go straight into the harvest basket with the rest of the food crops! 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. edible amaranth is also known as pigweed. Amaranth greens are nutritious, edible leafy vegetables of Central American origin. 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. 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). A proper history of amaranth would fill an entire book (or several). 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. The local amaranth seems to be a variety called “water hemp,” growing in wet areas. And unlike a lot of gluten-free wheat alternatives, it's really good for you. Pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus), is a close relative of amaranth and considered a weed but can be used in much the same way as amaranth. For more of a soupy porridge-type texture, use one part seeds to three parts water. Amaranth is an ancient grain that is loaded with healthy nutrients. Presently, its growth is mainly concentrated in tropical climates of Latin Americas, Asia and Africa. Cooked amaranth seeds are sort of nutty. 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. This plant was widely used for food by Native Americans of the Southwest. Amaranth plant grows wildly hence the natural tendencies to write it off as a weed. Amaranth can fall prey to many of the same pests and diseases that affect other vegetables. 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. "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.". [tweet_quote] Amaranth is a vibrantly colored plant, and both its seeds and leaves are edible. 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 is a hardy plant that thrives in tropical climates around the world.