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Notes on Amaranth

AMARANTH - Amaranthus sp. Galliaria sp. Mengea sp. Pyxidium sp. Amarant, Amarante, Amaranto, Amarantus, Beldros, Bledo, Bredos, Chorõe, Disznóparéj, Flor de Amor, Fuchsschwanz, Láskavec, Loskavec, Nenë, Pigweed, Quelite, Revonhäntä, S.*tir, Sv*tir, Szarlat. Bulgarian: Shchir. Russian: Amarant. This is such a nutritious plant that a pinch used as seasoning is packed with nutrition. The young shoots and stems, and the leaves of most species may be eaten raw or boiled for 12 minutes at 5000 feet elevation, or pressure cooked for 2 minutes at 15 pounds. After boiling, they may be fried in lard or canned. They will freeze well. Since it is painful to rub some species of amaranth between the hands while the seeds are still on the spike, the Indians bit off the tender young stalks raw. Some species may be purgative, and it is said adding a pinch of salt fixes this problem. The leaves and seeds can be pounded into flour and made into mush, or mixed with grease and eaten. Amaranth seeds are a good protein source and are rich in lysine. They can be threshed off the plants when needed. The plant is allowed to dry and then beaten or shaken to obtain the seeds. Or, they can be placed upside down in a sack for a week so the seeds will gather on the bottom. The chaff can be removed with a sieve. They can be eaten raw, parched, threshed, roasted, ground on stones and eaten, used to thicken broth, made into mush with goat's milk, or ground into meal to make bread, cakes, or mush. They can be soaked overnight. The mush is called piñole. When ground and boiled in water, they taste a little like coffee. The taproots are also edible as greens. The dried leaf tea is mildly astringent for internal mucous membranes, and used for flu and intestinal irritation.


On my property, Amaranth will grow well with just the extra rainwater that accumulates on the ground next to my buildings. Amaranth is planted by broadcasting. It requires water and nitrogen if planted densely. The plants are wind or bee pollinated. Durango Ornamental (Sangre de Castilla "blood of noble Spain") is available from Native Seeds/SEARCH.

A. albus (A. blitoides, blitum, graecizans, leucanthus, oleraceus, pubescens, scleropoides, viscidulus, Dimeiandra g., Galliaria albida, blitoides, g., Pyxidium g.): Blite, Bonebract Amaranth, Eatable Amaranth, Least Amaranth, Prostrate Pigweed, Spreading Pigweed, Tumble Pigweed, Tumble Weed, Tumbleweed, Tumbleweed Amaranth, White Amaranth, White Pigweed, White Rollingweed, White Tumbleweed. Diné: Naaskhaatiih, Naazkaadii "Spread out", Tcilnaamaasih "plant-rollable", Tlohteenaayizih "grass-seeded-turning around". The young plant is eaten prepared like spinach. It is good for bloody fluxes in either sex. Fish like the seed heads and they can be used as bait.

A. palmeri. Careless Weed, Carelessweed, Palmer Amaranth, Redroot. Akimel: Choohugia "Night carrying". They grow in agricultural fields, along roadsides, and near human habitation, through the heat of summer when few other salad plants are available. The leaves can be eaten as greens. The shiny black seeds of the mature plant are extracted in autumn (September or October). A tea of the dried leaves is a pleasant mild astringent for mucous membranes of the stomach and intestines, for flu and irritation. The plant carries 0-9% nitrates. Although not itself poisonous, it can be changed into toxic nitrite by enzymes in the body. Edible by hogs.


A. pringlei (A. anardana, arenicola, berlandieri, bigelovii, bouchoni, caudatus, chlorostachys, cruentus, delilei, fimbriatus, flavus, frumentaceus, hybridus, hypochondriacus, incurvatus, leucocarpus, leucospermus, obovatus, paniculatus, patulus, powellii, recurvatus, retroflexus, sanguineus, speciosus, spicatus, torreyi, venulosus, watsoni, watsonii, Galliaria retroflexa, scabra, Sarratia be., Amblogyne fimbriata, t.): Russian: Podsvekol'nik, Shchiritsa Zaprokinootaya. Alegria, Amarante Reflechie, Beet Root, Bloody Amaranth, Careless Weed, Caterpillar, Fringed Amaranth, Fringed Pigweed, Green Amaranth, Hairy Amaranth, Love Lies Bleeding, Mchicha, Pale Amaranth, Pigweed Amaranth, Powell Amaranth, Powell's Amaranth, Prince of Wales Feather, Prince's Feather, Prince's Feather Amaranth, Purple Amaranth, Quelite de Cochino, Quelite Morado, Rauhhaariger Fuchsschwanz, Red Root Pigweed, Redroot Amaranth, Redroot Pigweed, Rough Pigweed, Sandhills Amaranth, Slender Amaranth, Soldier Weed, Spreading Amaranth, Torrey Amaranth, Various Leaved Amaranth, Watson Amaranth, Wild Beets. Kawaiisu: Puguzivi. Dine: Tlohteeskitih "grass-seeded-humped [humped seeds]", Tlohteexocih "grass-seeded-prickly". Seri: Ziim, Ziim caitic "ziim soft". Takic: Pekat. Warihio: Weywi. Cultivar, ornamental. The green shoots and young leaves are boiled as greens. Gather them before the plant flowers. The water is squeezed out before eating. They can also be cooked in sea turtle oil or mixed with honey. The seeds are gathered by shaking the branches over a cloth or skin. Or cut, stack, and dry the plants, then shake out the seeds. Winnow, and toast in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once toasted, they can be ground into flour, sometimes made into gruel. They are edible whole or ground into piñole and drunk with water or milk, sweetened or not. Either the flour or gruel can be mixed with turtle oil. The seeds can be stored in ollas. The red coloring of the plant is used as a food coloring. The Hopi use the seeds to color corn bread pink. An infusion of leaves is used for hoarseness. The plant is used for dysentery and ulcers. The entire plant can be fed to livestock, including hogs. This plant can be toxic to livestock if it happens to store up a high concentration of nitrates, which cause bloat. Birds eat the seeds. They are used as bait for quail in a deadfall trap. This plant is considered one of the major hayfever plants. It is cultivated in old-fashioned gardens.


Hopi Red Dye Amaranth grows well in the desert. It is a cross between A. cruentus and A. powellii. Regular watering will produce six foot plants. The scarlet food dye comes from the flower bract. The following are varieties of A. cruentus: Mayo Indian Grain has black seeds and edible leaves. Mountain Pima Green leaves are edible as spinach and the seeds can be used to make pinole. Warihio Indian Grain is a cross between A. hybridus and A. hypochondriacus. The seeds are white.

A. spinosus (A. caracasanus, diacanthus): Bledo Espinoso, Bleo, Colilu, Culiul, Epinard Piquant, Epinard Sauvage, Green Pigweed, Mchicha, Opret Amarant, Prickly Amaranth, Quelite Espinoso, Spiny Amaranth, Spiny Pigweed, Thorny Amaranth, Zepina Piquant, Zepinard Piquant; and A. viridis (A. emarginatus, gracilis, adscendens, Glomeraria v., Euxolus v., Pyxidium viride): Epinard Blanc, Green Amaranth, Mchicha. Cultivar. The leaves are eaten like spinach. Diuretic. It is used for blenorrhea and canker.


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