Herb: Slender Amaranth

Latin name: Amaranthus blitum

Synonyms: Amaranthus lividus

Family: Amaranthaceae (Amaranth Family, Pigweed Family)

Medicinal use of Slender Amaranth:

A fluid extract of the plant is used as an astringent internally in the treatment of ulcerated mouths and throats, externally as a wash for ulcers and sores. The juice of the roots is used externally to relieve headaches. The plant has a folk reputation for being effective in the treatment of tumours and warts.

Description of the plant:


100 cm
(3 1/4 foot)


Habitat of the herb:

A cosmopolitan weed growing on waste ground.

Edible parts of Slender Amaranth:

Leaves - raw or cooked as a spinach. The leaves contain about 3.88% protein, 1.1% fat, 9.38% carbohydrate, 3.2% ash, 323mg Ca, 8.3mg Fe, they are very rich in Vitamins A & C, rich in vitamin B1. The leaves are used as a potherb in order to remove poison from the system. Seed - cooked. Used as a cereal substitute in cakes, porridge etc. Very small but easy to harvest and very nutritious. 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. An edible dye is obtained from the seed capsules.

Other uses of the herb:

Yellow and green dyes can be obtained from the whole plant.

Propagation of Slender Amaranth:

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 the herb:

A cosmopolitan weed growing on waste ground.

Known hazards of Amaranthus blitum:

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.