Flowers are tiny, lacking petals, crowded on terminal spikes interspersed with long spiny green bracts.  Male flower with 5 stamens. Creekbed in Santiago Park, Santa Ana, Orange County, CA. 11-20-11. © Joan Avise

Rough Pigweed
(Common Amaranth)

Amaranthus retroflexus

An exotic species, native to tropical America and one of the commonest weeds of wastelands in the U.S. 

It is monoecious, with both male and female flowers on the same plant.  The fruit is a capsule less than 2 mm with a single tiny black edible seed relished by Mourning Doves, finches, and sparrows.  (Clarke).

Back to Amaranthaceae of Orange County, California
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Santa Ana River, adj. to Yorba Reg. Park, 8-23-15. © Ron Vanderhoff.

Annual, up to 3-4 ft. tall. Creekbed in Santiago Park, Santa Ana, Orange County, CA. 11-20-11. © Joan Avise

Creekbed in Santiago Park, Santa Ana, Orange County, CA. 11-20-11. © Joan Avise

Santa Ana River, adj. to Yorba Reg. Park, 8-23-15. © Ron Vanderhoff.

Long spiny green bracts with separate male and female flowers. Creekbed in Santiago Park, Santa Ana, Orange County, CA. 11-20-11. © Joan Avise

Flower spikes terminal, branched. Creekbed in Santiago Park, Santa Ana, Orange County, CA. 11-20-11. © Joan Avise

The leaves are edible, often eaten as a vegetable; it was also used for medicinal purposes by Native Americans.  It is used in some places for pig and cattle fodder.  More information on food preparation. Creekbed in Santiago Park, Santa Ana, Orange County, CA. 11-20-11. © Joan Avise