Purple Amaranth (Amaranthus cruentus)

Annual
A. hybridus cruentus. Thell.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Purple Amaranth
Amaranthus cruentus
Amaranthaceae

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

  • Medicinal Use

    None known

  • Edible Use

    Leaves – cooked as a spinach[183]. The mild-flavoured leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals[183].

    Seed – very small but easy to harvest and very nutritious. They are eaten cooked or ground into a powder and used for making cakes etc[183, 257]. They can also be sprouted and used in salads[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 flowers are used as a food colouring in ceremonial maize bread[183].

  • 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 4 to 7.5. Plants should not be given inorganic fertilizers, see notes above on toxicity. This species is cultivated for its edible seed in many parts of S. America and in Japan[58, 97, 183]. There is at least one named variety, ‘Oeschberg’ is a very productive plant, growing 1 metre tall and can yield up to 2.5 tonnes per hectare[183]. This species is the most adaptable of the grain amaranths, it also flowers under a wider range of daylength hours than the other species[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].
Original habitat is obscure, it was probably tropical 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.