Herb: Spreading Pigweed

Latin name: Amaranthus graecizans

Family: Amaranthaceae (Amaranth Family, Pigweed Family)

Edible parts of Spreading Pigweed:

Leaves - cooked as a spinach. The nutritious leaves have a very mild flavour, they are often mixed with stronger tasting leaves. Seed - raw or cooked. Rich in starch, they can be used as a cereal substitute. 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.

Description of the plant:


50 cm
(1 foot)

Habitat of the herb:

Disturbed or waste ground, Washington to California.

Other uses of Spreading Pigweed:

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 Spreading Pigweed:

Disturbed or waste ground, Washington to California.

Medicinal use of the herb:

None known

Known hazards of Amaranthus graecizans:

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.