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Love Lies Bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Love Lies Bleeding
Amaranthus caudatus

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

  • Medicinal Use

    The plant is astringent, anthelmintic and diuretic[4, 240]. It is used in the treatment of stranguary and is applied externally to scrofulous sores[240].

  • Edible Use

    Leaves – raw or cooked as a spinach or added to soups etc[22, 46, 61, 105, 183]. The mild flavoured leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals[183, K].

    Seed – cooked[22, 46, 57, 105]. Very small but easy to harvest and very nutritious, individual plants can bear up to 100, 000 seeds[196]. It is eaten cooked or ground into a powder and used in baking[61, 183, 196]. The seed can also be popped in much the same way as popcorn[97, 183]. 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 is very nutritious and contains 13 – 18% of a very high quality protein that is rich in the amino acid lysine[196]. It also contains good quantities of calcium, phosphorus, iron, potassium, zinc, vitamin E and the vitamin B complex[196].

    A red food colouring called ‘betalaina’ is obtained from red cultivars[196].

  • 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[196, 200]. Grows moderately well in poor soils[200]. Requires a hot sheltered position if it is to do well[K]. Plants are drought resistant though reasonable moisture levels are required for germination and also at pollination[196]. Some forms can tolerate a pH up to 8.5, there are also some that can tolerate mild salinity[196]. It is likely that they will also tolerate acid soils and aluminium toxicity[196]. Plants are not frost-hardy, the most cold tolerant cultivars can tolerate temperatures down to about 4¡c[196]. Plants should not be given inorganic fertilizers, see notes above on toxicity. This species is cultivated for its edible seed and leaves in the Andes and various other parts of S. America[46, 61, 97]. It probably arose through cultivation from A. quitensis. There are some named varieties[196]. Plants take 4 – 6 months from sowing to harvesting the seed, but up to 10 months in some Andean highland regions[196]. Yields from 1 – 3 tonnes per hectare are common, 5 tonnes has been achieved and research sites have produced the equivalent of 6 tonnes per hectare[196]. The seed is usually harvested just before maturity otherwise some of the seed will be lost during harvesting[196]. Plants usually have downward facing seedheads but varieties have been developed with upward facing heads that can be harvested mechanically[196]. This species is sensitive to day-length most cultivars are short-day and have not done well in northern latitudes, but there are some varieties that flower at day-lengths up to 16 hours[196]. 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].

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.