Pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Pigweed
Amaranthus retroflexus
Amaranthaceae

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

  • Medicinal Use

    A tea made from the leaves is astringent[222]. It is used in the treatment of profuse menstruation, intestinal bleeding, diarrhoea etc[222, 238, 257]. An infusion has been used to treat hoarseness[257].

  • Edible Use

    Young leaves – raw or cooked as a spinach[2, 5, 62, 85, 159]. A mild flavour, it is often mixed with stronger flavoured leaves[183]. Very rich in iron, it is also a good source of vitamins A and C[201].

    Seed – raw or cooked[2, 46, 61, 85]. Ground into a powder and used as a cereal substitute[5], it can also be sprouted and added to salads. The seed is very small but easy to harvest and very nutritious. The flavour is greatly improved by roasting the seed before grinding it[183]. It is often added to maize meal[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].

  • 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. A good companion for potatoes, onions, corn, tomatoes, peppers and aubergines[20, 201]. A deep rooted plant, bringing up minerals from lower levels of the soil[201]. Formerly cultivated as a food crop by the N. American Indians[85]. 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 America. A casual in Britain[17].

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.