Prince’s Feather (Amaranthus hypochondriacus)

Annual
A. hybridus hypochondriachus. (L.)Thell.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Prince's Feather
Amaranthus hypochondriacus
Amaranthaceae

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

A red dye obtained from the plant (the report does not specify which part of the plant) is used as a colouring in foods and medicines[238].

  • Medicinal Use

    The whole plant contains tannin and is astringent[238, 254]. It is used internally in the treatment of diarrhoea and excessive menstruation[238, 254]. It can be used as a gargle to soothe inflammation of the pharynx and to hasten the healing of ulcerated mouths[254], whilst it can also be applied externally to treat vaginal discharges, nosebleeds and wounds[238]. The plant can be used fresh or it can also be harvested when coming into flower and dried for later use[238].

  • Edible Use

    Young leaves – cooked as a spinach[183, 238]. Rich in vitamins and minerals, they have a mild flavour[K].

    Seed – raw or cooked. They can be used as a cereal substitute. They can also be popped in much the same way as popcorn[183]. The seed can be soaked for 12 hours in warm water and then allowed to sprout for about 11 days[244]. They can then be added to salads[183]. Very small but the seed is 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].

    A red pigment obtained from the plant is used as a food colouring[238].

  • 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]. Tolerates a pH in the range 5.2 to 7.5. Plants should not be given inorganic fertilizers, see notes above on toxicity. Often cultivated, especially in tropical areas, for its edible leaves and seeds, there are many named varieties[183]. This is the most robust and highest yielding of the grain amaranths, though it is late maturing and therefore less suitable for northern areas[183]. 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].
Southern N. America.

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.