Amaranthus albus L.

=A graecizans

Amaranthaceae (Amaranth Family)

Tropical America



Tumbling Pigweed

                                         April Photo


Plant Characteristics:  Annual, stems erect or ascending, bushy-branched, pale, 2-15 dm. long; lvs. elliptic to spatulate or obovate, obtuse or retuse, 1-6 cm. long, the petioles short; monoecious, the fls. greenish, in small axillary clusters; bracts subulate, green, rigid, 2-4 times as long as sepals; sepals 3, subequal, scarcely 1 mm. long; stamens 3; utricle circumscissile, this walled, rugose, exceeding calyx; seeds round, dark red-brown, shining, ca. 0.8 mm. in diam.


Habitat:  Common weed in cult. and waste places through much of N. Am. below 2200 m.  May-Oct.


Name:  Greek, amarantos, unfading, because of the dry persistent calyx and bracts.  (Munz, Flora So. Calif. 60).  Latin, albulus, white.  (Jaeger 12).


General:  Occasional in the study area.  Photographed specimens were along the horse and bike path one-quarter mile from Jamboree Rd. and west of the Delhi Ditch. (my comments).     Other species, A. retroflexus and A. fimbriatus were valued by Indians for their seeds.  The greens are edible.  In folklore, the flower of one species of amaranth is regarded as the symbol of immortality.  The name is taken from a Greek word meaning "incorruptible".  The Greeks spread the flowers over graves to demonstrate their belief in the immortality of the soul.  (Clarke 179).      The young of any species may be used as greens but should be boiled without delay after gathering to keep the fine asparagus-like flavor.  As greens, these leaves are much superior to spinach.  Some pigweed can accumulate dangerous levels of nitrates and thus cause nitrate poisoning.  These plants should not be collected for eating in large quantities in cultivated areas where nitrate fertilizers may be spread on the ground.  Normal amounts eaten at a single meal have no danger whatever.  (Kirk 63).     Amaranth has more fiber, iron and protein than most grains and it contains lysine, an essential amino acid.  Result: combined with corn, wheat or brown rice, amaranth creates a complete protein that rivals dairy, meat, fish and poultry for protein value.  Amaranth contains three times as much fiber and five times as much iron as wheat, and twice as much calcium as milk.     (Cerier, Leslie, "Great Grains".  Bottom Line Personal  December 15, 1988 P. 10,11).      About 50 species, widespread except in cold regions.  (Munz, Flora So. Calif. 60).


Text Ref:  Collins 54; Hickman, Ed. 132; Munz, Calif Flora 387; Munz, Flora So. Calif. 61; Roberts 6.

Photo Ref:  Sept. 2 83 #22.

Identity: by R. De Ruff, confirmed by F. Roberts.

First Found:  September 1983.


Computer Ref:  Plant Data 124

Have plant specimen.

Last edit 6/12/05.  


                                  April Photo                                                                             July Photo