Calalu (Amaranthus viridis)

Annual
A. gracilis.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Calalu
Amaranthus viridis
Amaranthaceae

Yellow and green dyes can be obtained from the whole plant[168].

  • Medicinal Use

    A decoction of the entire plant is used to stop dysentery and inflammation[218].

    The plant is emollient and vermifuge[218, 240].

    The root juice is used to treat inflammation during urination[272]. It is also taken to treat constipation[272].

  • Edible Use

    Leaves – cooked as a spinach[46, 61, 144, 177, 183]. A mild flavour[K]. The leafy stems and flower clusters are similarly used[183]. 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[218].

    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[K]. The seed contains 14 – 16% protein and 4.7 – 7% fat[218].

  • Cautionary Notes

    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.

Cultivation & Habitat

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[133]. A drop in temperature overnight aids germination[133]. Cuttings of growing plants root easily[206].
Prefers a well-drained fertile soil in a sunny position[200]. Requires a hot sheltered position if it is to do well[K]. Plants should not be given inorganic fertilizers, see notes above on toxicity. Cultivated as a food plant in the tropics[46]. Should this plant be called A. caudatus. L. ‘Viridis'[200]? 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].
Tropical N. America? Original habitat is obscure.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.