Common Name: Careless Weed
Flowers and leaves
Photograph by: Pompilid
Amaranthus palmeri is an erect annual plant with a branched stem that can grow 50 - 150cm tall, exceptionally to 300cm[
The edible leaves and seeds are sometimes gathered from the wild and used locally.
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.
South-western N. America - southern California to Texas, south to northern Mexico
Waste places and fields at low elevations, also in interior valleys and deserts in California[
|Other Uses Rating
Prefers a well-drained fertile soil in a sunny position[
]. Requires a hot sheltered position if it is to do well[
Originally native to the North American Southwest, from southern California to Texas and northern Mexico, Amaranthus palmeri at present is a successful invasive species, which is evident from its expansion both in eastern North America and overseas[
Plants are particularly susceptible to attacks by leaf-chewing insects[
Plants should not be given inorganic fertilizers, see notes above on toxicity.
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[
Leaves - cooked as a spinach[
]. The leaves can also be dried for winter use[
Seed - cooked[
]. Very small but easy to harvest and very nutritious. It is usually ground into a powder and then used with cereal flours in making porridge, bread etc[
]. 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[
Yellow and green dyes can be obtained from the whole plant[
Seed - sow in situ. Germination is usually rapid and good if the soil is warm[
], but poor germination rates are experienced in cool or cold soils[
]. A drop in temperature overnight aids germination[
Cuttings of growing plants root easily[
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