Amaranthus caudatus L.
Characteristics of amaranth
Common name: amaranth, "love-lies-bleeding", pendant amaranth, tassel flower, velvet flower, foxtail amaranth, pigweed-
- In German: Garten-Fuchsschwanz
Scientific name: (Amaranthus caudatus L.)
Photo of raw and cooked amaranth
What is amaranth?
Amaranth is an annual herbaceous plant or shrub that at maturity can reach 3 meters or more (some varieties are lower than 40 inches): It is generally a common "weed" in the Andean valleys of South America.
Description of amaranth
Its primary or pivoting root is short, while the secondary roots branch deeper in the soil. The primary roots can become woody and take a huge size especially when separated from other plants.
The inflorescences (3) of amaranth are large, in the form of panicle. The inflorescence can be terminal or axillary. They also vary from being erect or decumbent, and they can offer different colors depending on the variety: yellow, orange, brown, red, pink to purple. The panicle is between 50 centimeters and 1 meter.
Pollination is predominantly autogamous in amaranth. Its flowers are unisexual, small, with stamens at the apex of the glomerulus and pistils. The elegance of the panicle flowering, which features brightly colored, is what gives the English names "velvet flower" and "foxtail". In countries where the plant is native, its flower are sold and used as an offering on the Day of the Dead.
Amaranth fruits are botanically capsules called unilocular pixidio. At maturity the grain opens transversely, dropping the top (operculum) to release the "urn", which is the part where the seed is.
The seeds are small, spherical, lenticular, shiny, white, yellow, gold, red, pink or black, depending on the variety of plant. Their size is very small, between 1 and 1.5 millimeters in diameter. The number of seeds varies between 1,000 and 3,000 per gram.
Panicle harvest is done 200 days after cultivation, and is expected to average 81g per plant. The stems and leaves are used for forage, being more nutritious crops for feeding ruminants.
Drawing of amaranth
Amaranth is not a cereal
Amaranth is very close to another pseudocereal, quinoa. Quinoa belongs to the family of Chenopodiaceae and, like amaranth, is considered a pseudocereal. Botanically, the family Chenopodiaceae and the Amaranthaceae are very close.
Their pollen is very similar and they are often studied together because of their similarity.
* More information about amaranth
The Amaranthaceae family comprises over 60 genera and approximately 800 species of annual or perennial herbaceous plants, of which the three main spices that are used for trading in the seed are: Amaranthus cruentus L. and Amaranthus hypochondriacus L., originating in Mexico and Guatemala, and the already mentioned (Amaranthus caudatus L), a native of Ecuador and Peru.
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This material is for informational purposes only. In case of doubt, consult the doctor.