Herb: Calalu


Latin name: Amaranthus viridis


Synonyms: Amaranthus gracilis


Family: Amaranthaceae (Amaranth Family, Pigweed Family)



Medicinal use of Calalu:

A decoction of the entire plant is used to stop dysentery and inflammation. The plant is emollient and vermifuge. The root juice is used to treat inflammation during urination. It is also taken to treat constipation.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Annual


Height:
30 cm
(11 3/4 inch)

Flovering:
July to
September

Habitat of the herb:

A weed of waste ground and roadsides but the original habitat is obscure.

Edible parts of Calalu:

Leaves - cooked as a spinach. A mild flavour. The leafy stems and flower clusters are similarly used. On a zero moisture basis, 100g of leaves contains 283 calories, 34.2g protein, 5.3g fat, 44.1g carbohydrate, 6.6g fibre, 16.4g ash, 2243mg calcium, 500mg phosphorus, 27mg iron, 336mg sodium, 2910mg potassium, 50mg vitamin A, 0.07mg thiamine, 2.43mg riboflavin, 11.8mg niacin and 790mg ascorbic acid. Seed - cooked. 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. The seed contains 14 - 16% protein and 4.7 - 7% fat.

Other uses of the herb:

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

Propagation of Calalu:

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 waste ground and roadsides but the original habitat is obscure.

Known hazards of Amaranthus viridis:

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.