Amaranthus retroflexus L.


Amaranthaceae (Amaranth Family)


Tropical America


Rough Pigweed   


Green Amaranth  



                                       August Photo


Plant Characteristics:  Stout, usually branched, erect, rough-pubescent, 3-15 dm. tall, with erect or ascending branches; lf. blades ovate or oblong-ovate, 3-10 cm. long, the uppermost narrower; petioles 1-7 cm. long; monoecious; fls. in dense spikes, 8-20 mm. thick and crowded into terminal lobulate panicles with crowded lateral spikes 1-5 cm. long; bracts ovate, subulate, ca. twice as long as sepals, the midrib barely excurrent; sepals 5, linear-oblong, emarginate, recurved, often mucronate, ca. 3 mm. long; stamens 5; style branches with moderately stout bases; utricle dehiscent, rugulose, shorter than sepals; seeds compressed, rounded or obovate, black, ca. 1 mm. long.


Habitat:  Garden and orchard weed, also in waste places; native of Trop. Am.  June-November.


Name:  Greek, amarantos, unfading, because of the dry persistent calyx and bracts.  (Munz, Flora So. Calif. 60).  Latin, retro, backward and Latin, flexus, bent, curved. (Jaeger 219,103).  Retroflexus, curved backward, referring to the sepals.  (my comment).


General:  Rare, with only three plants found, these on both sides of the path along the bluff top in the Castaways area. (my comments).      Introduced from tropical America, this plant has become one of the commonest weeds throughout the United States.  (Robbins et al. 163).       Amaranth greens are quite bland when young and can be prepared alone, as one would with spinach, or mixed with stronger flavored greens such as mustard.  The best greens are picked before the plant flowers.  To gather seeds, pick the green flowers or drying stalks before the seeds shatter out on their own.  Lay these on a plastic sheet in the sun or dry them in a slow oven and thresh out by shaking or walking on them.  The tiny flower parts may be ground up with the seeds or winnowed out by sifting the seeds through your fingers in a breeze.  The seeds are best if roasted (no more than 1/2 inch deep in a roasting pan, at 350 degrees, for 1 hour) before grinding.  The seeds are relished by Mourning Dove, House Finch, goldfinches and sparrows.  (Clarke 179).      The main function of Amaranth spp. is as a pleasant, mild astringent for the mucus membranes.  A strong tea can be drunk every several hours for mild stomach and intestinal irritation, particularly the recuperative period of gastroenteritis or stomach flu to lessen irritability of the tissues. (Moore, Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West 24).      About 50 species, widespread except in cold regions.  (Munz, Flora So. Calif. 60).

Text Ref:  Abrams, Vol. II 98; Hickman, Ed. 134; Munz, Flora So. Calif. 98;  Roberts 6.

Photo Ref:  Aug 83-Mar 94 # 1A,4A.

Identity: by R. De Ruff, confirmed by John Johnson.


Computer Ref:  Plant Data 458.

Have plant specimen.

Last edit 10/20/02.