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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. It seems to tolerate most soil types but it really thrives in the rich soil of a well-amended garden. Amaranth is a herbaceous plant or shrub that is either annual or perennial across the genus. Amaranth greens nutrition facts. In many parts of the world, in South America especially, Amaranth is deemed a traditional garden vegetable crop. All amaranth foliage, which ranges from green to yellow, orange and red, like Hopi red dye amaranth (Amaranthus cruentus x A. powelli), is edible. Angela England is the author of "Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less)," and edits the online publication Blissfully Domestic. One part seeds to two parts water is a happy medium. We only link books and other products that we think would be useful to our readers. Historically, the use of amaranth as an ornamental plant is a relatively recent development. Maybe. This amaranth has nutritious, flavorful foliage with a hearty spinach flavor that is sweet and slightly tangy. To cook, add to boiling water and simmer uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes. Amaranth grows well in average soils and will grow adequately in poor soils. Overview Information Amaranth is a plant. Today, flour and grain products are available on grocery shelves in the U.S. with recipes of all kinds on the internet. Rinse away the dried seed “chaff” and enjoy your grain harvest. Thanks, Jonathan! 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. The local amaranth seems to be a variety called “water hemp,” growing in wet areas. Young leaves can be eaten raw or cooked like spinach, sautéed, etc. Fresh or dried pigweed leaves can be used to make tea. 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. Once root rot occurs, the plant must be removed. Amaranth grains are especially good in a porridge that also contains other grains, such as millet and quinoa. In spite of some wild rumors, all amaranth can be eaten — even glyphosate-resistant Palmer pigweed — with a couple of caveats. Or rather, the pigweeds (there are different kinds) are amaranth species. Barbara Gillette is a Master Gardener, Herbalist, beekeeper, and journalist with decades of experience propagating and growing fruits, vegetables, herbs, and ornamentals. Average outdoor temps need to reach about 55 degrees Fahrenheit before planting the seedlings outdoors. Before that, it was foraged wild. Unlike other leafy green vegetables, amaranth is fairly happy in the heat. See the USDA's amaranth seed nutrition table for a full list of nutrients. It’s possible that it will resprout for another harvest, though you do risk introducing pests to the open stem. Many Asian and African dishes make use of amaranth greens. It is a traditional food of Native Americans including the … Amaranth plants have average needs for water (no more than 1 inch per week). it will grow even for people who don't want it. The Amaranthus genus is a complicated one, featuring at least 75 annual and perennial species that easily cross-breed and hybridize. 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… Aztec ritual. The seed is very small but easy to harvest and very nutritious. Flowering amaranth plants can still have their leaves harvested to eat, but you may find that the flavor changes after the amaranth plant flowers. Shake the bag once they are dry, or knock the seeds loose over a cloth. As they sprout, thin the plants out to a spacing of 10 to 18 inches. Amaranth can fall prey to many of the same pests and diseases that affect other vegetables. Avoid using commercial pesticides with a "wait to pick" or any other type of warning regarding consumption. 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 have a friend who prefers amaranth over lambsquarters for flavor, though. Growing Amaranth in Containers. Read on to find out how to harvest amaranth and other information about harvesting amaranth grains. This plant was widely used for food by Native Americans of the Southwest. Cook young tender pigweed leaves as you would spinach; steam or sauté/stir-fry in butter or oil. First, remember that amaranth produces edible leaves, similar in taste to spinach. I frequently see it on the edges of fields and parks. 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. Smooth Amaranth flower Smooth Amaranth, green form. 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. Depending on variety, this may take several rinsings due to the amount of chaff. 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. Like these weeds it readily grows in cultivated soil and will self-sow easily if allowed to go to seed. The weedy amaranth types are also edible and taste much like the cultivated varieties. 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. 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. The flower spikes are probably the plant's most identifiable trait. In reply to I’m gathering amaranth to by Anne. 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. The differences are more or less cultural preferences, as all types are edible and highly nutritious. 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. Amaranth is a plant that falls into one of four categories: grain, vegetable, ornamental or weed. As greens go, most folks consider amaranth better than acceptable but probably not what you would call "top shelf". 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. 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. 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. Pigweed seeds should never be eaten raw. Good to know pigweed is so nutritious! At the same time, they need enough space to provide good air circulation. In a plethora of spots on the map, Amaranth is viewed as a traditional garden crop – especially in South America. If you are planting amaranth in containers, make sure your container is at least 10” deep. You often hear amaranth called an ancient grain because it was once grown and harvested by Aztec and Inca civilizations. This works better if you have mesh bags. Native Americans used Amaranthus species as a food source for centuries. Cooked amaranth seeds are sort of nutty. Ancient super-food? 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. 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. If you are eager for early harvest, you can start the seeds indoors as much as eight weeks earlier. While amaranth plants are tall, they aren’t necessarily wide or bushy. Amaranth shares a family with the common (and edible) weeds; lambsquarters and pigweed. 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. I’m gathering amaranth to collect seed to feed my chickens. These are very easy-to-grow plants, as befits a genus with many species that grow as roadside native plants. 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. Pigweed has a mild flavour and is often mixed with stronger flavoured leaves. 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. Redroot Amaranth grows as an erect, annual herb reaching a height of 9 feet. Edible Parts. One of the amaranth seed's most attractive traits, in an era of anti-wheat, is simply the fact that amaranth is gluten-free. Good to know by Jonathan. It's also possible to collect some of the seeds in fall and replant them the following spring. According to this study, amaranth seed's protein  is similar to animal protein. 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. A proper history of amaranth would fill an entire book (or several). What Parts Of The Amaranth Plant Are Edible? Amaranth plant grows wildly hence the natural tendencies to write it off as a weed. Amaranths are usually planted from seeds as soon as the last frost has passed in the spring. Like so many fresh Asian greens, amaranth greens need no embellishment aside from a few cloves of crushed garlic. Or you can use a room or closet with a dehumidifier running. "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.". Presently, its growth is mainly concentrated in tropical climates of Latin Americas, Asia and Africa. Not only are its leaves delectable, its seeds are also edible and nutritious as well. 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. Regardless of your cultivar, amaranth leaves can be harvested at any point. It's also high in vitamin A and calcium, as well as a host of other healthful vitamins and minerals. If consumption is the goal, choose annual amaranth varieties marketed as edibles. One to one makes a really firm consistency. 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. This helps to keep Wild Edible online. 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. 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. Amaranth is related to a common weed you probably know, pigweed. 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. key word weed. For more of a soupy porridge-type texture, use one part seeds to three parts water. 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. 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. When harvesting the leaves, make sure to leave the crown and some leaves around the top to continue growing. (Apparently, the weedy types are also edible and taste much like the cultivated kinds. amaranth is an entire group of plants. There are around 60 species of amaranth — all have varying degrees of good-to-eatness. Only dense clay soils are likely to be completely unsuitable for amaranth. Within the flowerheads, the true flowers are small and inconspicuous. In fact, excessive nitrogen will cause the plants to become leggy and less suitable for harvesting. 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. I'd never heard of it but I just googled it. Species across the genus contain concentric rings of vascular bundles, and fix carbon efficiently with a C4 photosynthetic pathway. Ancient it is, though. Both the leaves and stems are edible. However, a notable … edible amaranth is also known as pigweed. Maybe it's more of an acquired taste. Every part of the amaranth plant is edible: roots, seeds, stem, leaves, and flowers. 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. 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 you find lambsquarters, you're likely to find amaranth growing nearby, as they're similar plants and do well in similar conditions. 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 … In other words, it’s the ideal plant for edible landscaping. Amaranths don't require any feeding. Amaranth leaves are a good source of potassium. Root rot can be a problem in wet, dense soil or in periods where rainfalls are frequent and copious. Amaranth is enjoyed by birds, insects, and also makes a great cut flower. 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 … It was a main staple of the Aztecs and was cultivated by them as long as 8,000 years ago. copyright © 2010-2020 Wild Edible, all rights reserved | Privacy Policy | Terms & Conditions. Varieties of amaranth can range from giants topping 8 feet to smaller 1- to 2-foot plants better suited for leaf harvest only. I love "weeds" that can go straight into the harvest basket with the rest of the food crops! Amaranth seed or grain is also edible when toasted or milled into flour. Some varieties are marketed as best for seed production, while others are bred for attractive, tasty leaves that work well in salads. Learn tips for creating your most beautiful (and bountiful) garden ever. Some varieties are marketed as best for seed production, while others are bred for attractive, tasty leaves that work well in salads. I'm partial to its cousin, lambsquarters, but amaranth leaves are definitely worth foraging. 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. 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. 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. Large size and heat won’t turn amaranth leaves bitter, as often occurs with other leafy greens. Looks like its Latin name is Amaranthus tuberculatus. Amaranth's/pigweed's favorite stomping grounds are disturbed areas like fields, yards, and the edges of woods. 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. Pigweed plants can grow to over six feet high with alternating oval to diamond-shaped leaves that may be up to six inches long. There are some 60 amaranth species, maybe 70 (it depends on who’s counting.) Before they all turn brown, cut the flowers off and place them in bags, where they will dry. Amaranth is an ancient grain that is loaded with healthy nutrients. The seeds are extremely nutritious and protein-packed with a slightly nutty flavor. Amaranth is a wonderfully versatile plant that’s a beautiful flower, a delicious vegetable, and a nutritious grain all in one. Amaranth is a hardy plant that thrives in tropical climates around the world. The flowers eventually dry out and yield tiny husked seeds which may then be harvested. Amaranth grows well in any average well-drained soil, but it will struggle in dense clay soils. Helpful article! Harvesting Edible Amaranth . Cultivated in Mexico thousands of years ago, both the leaves and seeds of amaranth are edible. [tweet_quote] Amaranth is a vibrantly colored plant, and both its seeds and leaves are edible. Harvesting Amaranth Plants. The Spruce uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. Amaranth leaves and grains were one of the staple foods of Aztecs and Incas in pre-Columbian times. The leaves are used as a typical green would be. Having ample potassium in the body helps move oxygen to the brain which stimulates n… 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). In reply to Great article! Spiny amaranth has edible leaves and might be a medicine and sex aid. ... Grains are the edible seeds of plants called cereals. Steam, stir-fry, saute, or mix with spaghetti sauce, rice, or meatloaf. Make sure the site you choose has good drainage and air circulation. Germination generally takes 7 to 14 days. You can consume them raw, stir-fried, or sauteed. Of course the wickedly thorny variety is what usually volunteers in my beds. 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. It even has medicinal qualities. Nearly all amaranths are edible, including love-lies-bleeding and even the common road-side weedy forms. The entire plant is used to make medicine. Then sift the seeds through a strainer to remove the coarser chaff. The bulk seed is uses as a "grain" in porridges or added as a thickener to soups and stews. pseudo-cereal seeds are not the same as "true" grains. To harvest grains, let the plant go all the way to flower. 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. The seed can only be eaten when it's cooked, as it inhibits nutrient absorption when consumed raw. For those with celiac disease, milled amaranth is a gluten-free flour substitute. Pigweed is one of the common names given to a clutch of Amaranth species that crash parties where they are not wanted. Sorting out some amaranths Amaranthus hybridus, aka Smooth Amaranth, stems can be red or green Smooth Amaranth red leaf hairy, green can be hairless. 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. Inflorescences of Powell amaranth (left) and purple amaranth (right). You’ll want to cultivate larger plants specifically grown for their seeds if you want the amaranth grain. Don't overwater, or you run the risk of root rot or fungal diseases. Andrey Zharkikh / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0. The seeds are ready to harvest when they start falling off of the plant, usually towards middle to late summer. 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. Thanks for your support! Store in clean jars or use right away. 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. 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. The closer you can get them, the better they look once fully grown. The seed, oil, and leaf are used as food. Amaranthus palmeri, Palmer […] Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of, 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. Or, you can cut the whole plant down off at ground level when it is 1 to 2 feet tall. 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.

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