Herb: Mat Amaranth

Latin name: Amaranthus blitoides

Family: Amaranthaceae (Amaranth Family, Pigweed Family)

Edible parts of Mat Amaranth:

Leaves - raw or cooked. Rich in vitamins and minerals, it is used as a spinach. The leaves can be dried and used as a winter food. Seed - raw or cooked. Very small and fiddly, but the seed is very nutritious. Rich in starch. The seed can be ground into a powder and used in making porridge, bread, mush, as a flavouring in soups etc. The seed can be cooked whole, and becomes very gelatinous like this, but it is rather difficult to crush all of the small seeds in the mouth and thus some of the seed will pass right through the digestive system without being assimilated.

Description of the plant:


20 cm
(7 3/4 inch)

Habitat of the herb:

A weed of disturbed and waste ground.

Other uses of Mat Amaranth:

Yellow and green dyes can be obtained from the whole plant. A glue is made from the plant. No more information is given, it is likely that the starch from the seed was used.

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - sow late spring in situ. An earlier sowing can be made in a greenhouse and the plants put out after the last expected frosts. Germination is usually rapid and good if the soil is warm. A drop in temperature overnight aids germination. Cuttings of growing plants root easily.

Cultivation of Mat Amaranth:

A weed of disturbed and waste ground.

Medicinal use of the herb:

None known

Known hazards of Amaranthus blitoides:

No members of this genus are known to be poisonous, but when grown on nitrogen-rich soils they are known to concentrate nitrates in the leaves. This is especially noticeable on land where chemical fertilizers are used. Nitrates are implicated in stomach cancers, blue babies and some other health problems. It is inadvisable, therefore, to eat this plant if it is grown inorganically.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.