Herb: Prince's Feather
Latin name: Amaranthus hypochondriacus
Synonyms: Amaranthus hybridus erythrostachys, Amaranthus hybridus hypochondriachus
Family: Amaranthaceae (Amaranth Family, Pigweed Family)
Medicinal use of Prince's Feather:The whole plant contains tannin and is astringent. It is used internally in the treatment of diarrhoea and excessive menstruation. It can be used as a gargle to soothe inflammation of the pharynx and to hasten the healing of ulcerated mouths, whilst it can also be applied externally to treat vaginal discharges, nosebleeds and wounds. The plant can be used fresh or it can also be harvested when coming into flower and dried for later use.
Description of the plant:
Habitat of the herb:A weed of wasteland and agricultural land.
Edible parts of Prince's Feather:Young leaves - cooked as a spinach. Rich in vitamins and minerals, they have a mild flavour. Seed - raw or cooked. They can be used as a cereal substitute. They can also be popped in much the same way as popcorn. The seed can be soaked for 12 hours in warm water and then allowed to sprout for about 11 days. They can then be added to salads. Very small but the seed is 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. A red pigment obtained from the plant is used as a food colouring.
Other uses of the herb:Yellow and green dyes can be obtained from the whole plant. A red dye obtained from the plant (the report does not specify which part of the plant) is used as a colouring in foods and medicines.
Propagation of Prince's Feather: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 weed of wasteland and agricultural land.
Known hazards of Amaranthus hypochondriacus: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.