Amaranthus spp. is an annual, erect herb (up to 1 m tall) grown for its edible leaves Leaves grow up to 8 cm in length and are present in an alternate arrangement along the stem. Small flowers are borne on slender spikes within inflorescences up to 12 cm long. Fruit are small, compressed, oval-shaped seeds (1 mm in diameter) and glossy black in color.
A. spp. is grown as a green vegetable. Leaves and young stems are prepared similar to other cooked leafy crops: boiled, sautéed, fried, added to soups, stews, or stir-frys. Seed production is minimal compared to biomass and is rather small. However, if harvested, seeds can be cooked similar to other amaranth pseudocereals: roasted, boiled, sprouted, or fermented. Plants are also used for livestock fodder.
- Elevation – up to 800 m
- Rainfall – 200-2700 mm
- Soil Types – pH 4.3-7.5; well-drained soils
- Temperature Range – 18-32°C
- Day Length Sensitivity – none
- Light – prefers full sun
Seeds can be broadcast in the field, or sown in a nursery for later transplanting of seedlings.. A. spp. also does well from cuttings of mature plants. Can be intercropped with maize or similar crops.
Harvesting and Seed Production
When ready to harvest, entire plants are uprooted as needed, or cut back and allowed to regrow. Leaves should be used as soon as possible, or stored in refrigeration. Seed heads can be hung in a controlled environment to dry.
Pests and Diseases
Pigweed mosaic virus is a common pest, resulting in decreased yields.
Cooking and Nutrition
A. spp. leaves are high in protein, calcium, potassium, and Vitamic C. They can be prepared boiled, sautéed, fried, or in soups, stews, or stir-frys.
Ecocrop. 1993-2007. Amaranthus viridis. Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome, Italy. ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/dataSheet?id=2189. Accessed 13 September 2019.
Grubben, G.J.H., 2004. Amaranthus tricolor L. Record from PROTA4U. Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, Netherlands. http://www.prota4u.org/search.asp. Accessed 2 January 2020.
Jansen, P.C.M., 2004. Amaranthus viridis L. Record from PROTA4U. Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, Netherlands. http://www.prota4u.org/search.asp. Accessed 13 September 2019.
Tropical Plants Database, Ken Fern. tropical.theferns.info. 2020-01-02. tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Amaranthus+tricolor. Accessed 02 January 2020.
Tropical Plants Database, Ken Fern. tropical.theferns.info. tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Amaranthus+viridis. Accessed 13 September 2019