Latin name: Amaranthus quitensis
Family: Amaranthaceae (Amaranth Family, Pigweed Family)
Edible parts of Ataco:A red edible dye is obtained from the inflorescence, it is used in S. America for colouring ceremonial maize dishes. Leaves - cooked. Used as a potherb. Seed - ground into a powder and used as a flour. 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:
(3 1/4 foot)
Habitat of the herb:An infrequent casual of waste ground in Britain, introduced with bird seed, soya-bean waste etc. It rarely, if ever, sets seed in Britain.
Other uses of Ataco: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 Ataco:An infrequent casual of waste ground in Britain, introduced with bird seed, soya-bean waste etc. It rarely, if ever, sets seed in Britain.
Medicinal use of the herb:None known
Known hazards of Amaranthus quitensis: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.