Pigweed - Amaranthus retroflexus Pigweed - Amaranthus retroflexus
Foto: botanika.wendys.cz

Herb: Pigweed

Latin name: Amaranthus retroflexus

Family: Amaranthaceae (Amaranth Family, Pigweed Family)

Medicinal use of Pigweed:

A tea made from the leaves is astringent. It is used in the treatment of profuse menstruation, intestinal bleeding, diarrhoea etc. An infusion has been used to treat hoarseness.

Description of the plant:


90 cm
(2 feet)

July to

Habitat of the herb:

A casual of cultivated land and waste places in Britain.

Edible parts of Pigweed:

Young leaves - raw or cooked as a spinach. A mild flavour, it is often mixed with stronger flavoured leaves. Very rich in iron, it is also a good source of vitamins A and C. Seed - raw or cooked. Ground into a powder and used as a cereal substitute, it can also be sprouted and added to salads. The seed is very small but easy to harvest and very nutritious. The flavour is greatly improved by roasting the seed before grinding it. It is often added to maize meal. 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.

Other uses of the herb:

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

Propagation of Pigweed:

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 casual of cultivated land and waste places in Britain.

Known hazards of Amaranthus retroflexus:

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.