Herb: Purple Amaranth


Latin name: Amaranthus cruentus


Synonyms: Amaranthus hybridus cruentus, Amaranthus paniculatus


Family: Amaranthaceae (Amaranth Family, Pigweed Family)



Edible parts of Purple Amaranth:

Leaves - cooked as a spinach. The mild-flavoured leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals. Seed - very small but easy to harvest and very nutritious. They are eaten cooked or ground into a powder and used for making cakes etc. They can also be sprouted and used in salads. 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. The flowers are used as a food colouring in ceremonial maize bread.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Annual


Height:
2 m
(6 1/2 foot)

Flovering:
July to
September

Habitat of the herb:

Not known in a truly wild situation.

Other uses of Purple Amaranth:

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

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 Purple Amaranth:

Not known in a truly wild situation.

Medicinal use of the herb:

None known

Known hazards of Amaranthus cruentus:

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.