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Useful Tropical Plants

Amaranthus hybridus

L.

Amaranthaceae

+ Synonyms

Amaranthus aureus Moq.

Amaranthus batalleri Sennen

Amaranthus bellardii Moq.

Amaranthus berchtholdii Moq.

Amaranthus catechu Moq.

Amaranthus caudatus Baker & Clarke, in Dyer

Amaranthus chlorostachys Willd.

Amaranthus eugenii Sennen

Amaranthus flavescens Moq.

Amaranthus hecticus Willd.

Amaranthus incurvatus Trimen ex Gren. & Gord.

Amaranthus intermedius Guss. ex Moq.

Amaranthus laetus Willd.

Amaranthus laxiflorus Comelli ex Pollini

Amaranthus neglectus Moq.

Amaranthus nepalensis Moq.

Amaranthus paniculatus sanguineus Regel

Amaranthus patulus multispiculatus Sennen

Amaranthus pseudoretroflexus (Thell.) Almq.

Amaranthus quitensis Kunth

Amaranthus retroflexus chlorostachys A. Gray

Amaranthus retroflexus hybridus A. Gray

Amaranthus spicatus Rchb.

Amaranthus timeroyi Jord. ex Moq.

Amaranthus trivialis Rota

Galliaria hybrid (L.) Nieuwl.

Common Name: Green Amaranth

Amaranthus hybridus
Flowering stem
Photograph by: Fagg, M.
Image credit to Australian National Botanic Gardens
Amaranthus hybridus Amaranthus hybridus Amaranthus hybridus Amaranthus hybridus

General Information

Amaranthus hybridus is an erect annual plant with a stem that can be much-branched to nearly free of branches; it usually grows 30 - 200cm tall, occasionally to 250cm[
270
Title
Flora of N. America
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/fna/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An on-line version of the flora with an excellent description of the plant including a brief mention of plant uses.
].
The plant has a long history of cultivation as a food crop and is still sometimes cultivated on a small scale for its edible leaves and seeds.

Known Hazards

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.

Botanical References

43
Title
Gray's Manual of Botany.
Publication
 
Author
Fernald. M. L.
Publisher
American Book Co.; New York
Year
1908
ISBN
-
Description
A bit dated but a good and concise flora of the eastern part of N. America.
,
50
Title
Flora Europaea
Publication
 
Author
?
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1964
ISBN
-
Description
An immense work in 6 volumes (including the index). The standard reference flora for Europe, it is very terse though and with very little extra information. Not for the casual reader.

Range

Widespread in the tropics, originally from the Americas. Naturalized in Europe[
50
Title
Flora Europaea
Publication
 
Author
?
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1964
ISBN
-
Description
An immense work in 6 volumes (including the index). The standard reference flora for Europe, it is very terse though and with very little extra information. Not for the casual reader.
]

Habitat

Of uncertain origin, it grows wild in cultivated fields and waste places[
43
Title
Gray's Manual of Botany.
Publication
 
Author
Fernald. M. L.
Publisher
American Book Co.; New York
Year
1908
ISBN
-
Description
A bit dated but a good and concise flora of the eastern part of N. America.
].

Properties

Weed PotentialYes
Edibility Rating *  *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *
Other Uses Rating *
HabitAnnual
Height0.60 m
PollinatorsWind, self
Self-fertileYes
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Wild

Cultivation Details

A plant originally from the tropics, it is widely cultivated from the temperate zone through to most tropical areas, where it is found at elevations up to 1,300 metres[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 12 - 30°c, but can tolerate 8 - 35°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It can be killed by temperatures of 4°c or lower[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 400 - 600mm, but tolerates 300 - 700mm[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. These rainfall figures seem very low - the plant can be grown in areas of much higher rainfall than this[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].
Prefers a well-drained fertile soil in a sunny position[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Requires a hot sheltered position if it is to do well[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. Prefers a pH in the range 6.5 - 7.5, tolerating 6 - 8.5[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
A prolific producer of seed, the plant has often escaped from cultivation and become naturalised as a weed of disturbed and cultivated ground[
305
Title
Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hear.org/pier/scientificnames/index.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A very good website detailing weed species that have been introduced into the Pacific Islands.
].
Plants are particularly susceptible to attacks by leaf-chewing insects[
298
Title
Edible Leaves of the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Martin. F. W.; Ruberte. R. M. & Meitzner. L. S.
Publisher
Echo. USA.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9653360-1-8
Description
A terse guide, giving reasonable detail on the more common leaf crops and brief information on a wide range of lesser known plants.
].
Plants should not be given inorganic fertilizers, see notes above on toxicity.
Cultivated as a food crop in India[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
105
Title
Tanaka's Cyclopedia of Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Tanaka. T. & Nakao S.
Publisher
Keigaku Publishing; Tokyo
Year
1976
ISBN
-
Description
The most comprehensive list of edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.
], there are many named forms[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. This species has the potential, through crossbreeding, of imparting early maturity to the white seeded grain amaranths[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
].
Most if not all members of this genus photosynthesize by a more efficient method than most plants. Called the 'C4 carbon-fixation pathway', this process is particularly efficient at high temperatures, in bright sunlight and under dry conditions[
196
Title
Lost Crops of the Incas
Publication
 
Author
Popenoe. H. et al
Publisher
National Academy Press
Year
1990
ISBN
0-309-04264-X
Description
An excellent book. Very readable, with lots of information and good pictures of some lesser known food plants of S. America.
].

Edible Uses

Leaves and young seedlings - cooked as a spinach, added to soups etc or eaten raw[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
61
Title
A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Publication
 
Author
Usher. G.
Publisher
Constable
Year
1974
ISBN
0094579202
Description
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
,
62
Title
A Field Guide to N. American Edible Wild Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Elias. T. and Dykeman. P.
Publisher
Van Nostrand Reinhold
Year
1982
ISBN
0442222009
Description
Very readable.
,
159
Title
Wild Food Plants of Indiana.
Publication
 
Author
McPherson. A. and S.
Publisher
Indiana University Press
Year
1977
ISBN
0-253-28925-4
Description
A nice pocket guide to this region of America.
,
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. The nutritious leaves have a mild flavour[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Seed - raw or cooked[
22
Title
Alternative Foods.
Publication
 
Author
Sholto-Douglas. J.
Publisher
 
Year
 
ISBN
 
Description
Not very comprehensive, it seems more or less like a copy of earlier writings with little added.
,
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
61
Title
A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Publication
 
Author
Usher. G.
Publisher
Constable
Year
1974
ISBN
0094579202
Description
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
,
85
Title
Edible Native Plants of the Rocky Mountains.
Publication
 
Author
Harrington. H. D.
Publisher
University of New Mexico Press
Year
1967
ISBN
0-8623-0343-9
Description
A superb book. Very readable, it gives the results of the authors experiments with native edible plants.
]. Used as a cereal substitute, the seed is usually ground into a flour for use in porridges, bread etc. It is rather small, about 1mm in diameter[
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.
], but is easy to harvest and very nutritious[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. It contains 12 - 15% crude protein, which is relatively high in lysine, and 4.8 - 8.1% oil[
289
Title
The National Non-Food Crops Centre Crop Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.nnfcc.co.uk/crops/pd.cfm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line information source, with information on over 100 species (as of 2006) of plants being investigated as bio-crops.
]. 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[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Medicinal

A tea made from the leaves is astringent[
105
Title
Tanaka's Cyclopedia of Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Tanaka. T. & Nakao S.
Publisher
Keigaku Publishing; Tokyo
Year
1976
ISBN
-
Description
The most comprehensive list of edible plants I've come across. Only the briefest entry for each species, though, and some of the entries are more than a little dubious. Not for the casual reader.
,
222
Title
A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America.
Publication
 
Author
Foster. S. & Duke. J. A.
Publisher
Houghton Mifflin Co.
Year
1990
ISBN
0395467225
Description
A concise book dealing with almost 500 species. A line drawing of each plant is included plus colour photographs of about 100 species. Very good as a field guide, it only gives brief details about the plants medicinal properties.
]. It is used in the treatment of intestinal bleeding, diarrhoea, excessive menstruation etc[
222
Title
A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America.
Publication
 
Author
Foster. S. & Duke. J. A.
Publisher
Houghton Mifflin Co.
Year
1990
ISBN
0395467225
Description
A concise book dealing with almost 500 species. A line drawing of each plant is included plus colour photographs of about 100 species. Very good as a field guide, it only gives brief details about the plants medicinal properties.
,
257
Title
Native American Ethnobotany
Publication
 
Author
Moerman. D.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-88192-453-9
Description
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
].

Other Uses

Yellow and green dyes can be obtained from the whole plant[
168
Title
Nature's Colors - Dyes from Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Grae. I.
Publisher
MacMillan Publishing Co. New York.
Year
1974
ISBN
0-02-544950-8
Description
A very good and readable book on dyeing.
].

Propagation

Seed - can be sown in situ or in a nursery seedbed and then transplanted to their permanent position 2 - 3 weeks later[
617
Title
Traditional Vegetables in Benin
Publication
 
Author
Achigan-Dako E. Et al
Publisher
Darwin Initiative; International Foundation for Science
Year
2009
ISBN
 
Description
Issued as a PDF on the Internet, it contains basic information on over 250 species of plants used for food in Benin.
]. Germination is usually rapid and good if the soil is warm[
133
Title
Growing from Seed. Volume 1.
Publication
 
Author
Rice. G. (Editor)
Publisher
Thompson and Morgan.
Year
1987
ISBN
-
Description
Very readable magazine with lots of information on propagation.
], but poor germination rates are experienced in cool or cold soils[
289
Title
The National Non-Food Crops Centre Crop Database
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.nnfcc.co.uk/crops/pd.cfm
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line information source, with information on over 100 species (as of 2006) of plants being investigated as bio-crops.
]. A drop in temperature overnight aids germination[
133
Title
Growing from Seed. Volume 1.
Publication
 
Author
Rice. G. (Editor)
Publisher
Thompson and Morgan.
Year
1987
ISBN
-
Description
Very readable magazine with lots of information on propagation.
].
Cuttings of growing plants root easily[
206
Title
Oriental Vegetables
Publication
 
Author
Larkcom J.
Publisher
John Murray
Year
1991
ISBN
0-7195-4781-4
Description
Well written and very informative.
].

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