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amaranth

Amaranth

 
Amaranthus retroflexus 






 

Appearance and General Info

Family:

Amaranthaceae

Common Names:

Amaranth, Pigweed

Description:

Amaranth grows in disturbed soil from dry to moist climates.  It grows on every continent on the globe next to human activity.  It is commonly found growing in gardens as well as uncultivated areas.  It is an herbaceous annual with well defined veins on the alternate leaves. The roots and stems are often reddish in color. The flower culminates in a spike with clusters of non-distinct flowers becoming thousands of tiny black seeds after the plant loses its green color and dries out in the fall. The seed spikes can be very prickly and we find it is wise to harvest them in quantity with gloves.

Medicinal Uses: 

A tea made from the leaves is successful as an astringent for pulling out toxins and toning internal organs. It is also used in the treatment for lessening intense menstruation, intestinal cramping, and diarrhea. A tea used as a gargle mouth wash can be used to treat hoarseness and sore throats.

Edible Uses:

Amaranth greens are a fantastic edible green, similar to spinach and can be used in salads and other dishes.  They contain large amounts of enzymes, minerals and vitamins including a rainbow of trace nutrients. The black seeds of the amaranth are edible in their raw form.  The seeds are rich in protein, iron, vitamins A and C. The seeds need to be winnowed away from the chaff by lightly tossing the seeds up into the wind and catching the seeds in a bowl while the fluff blows away by the wind currents.  The seeds are heavier and fall back into the bowl. You can also use your breath as the wind. Any excess fluff that remains with the seeds can be used along with the seeds and supports the system as extra fiber.  We grind the seeds in a coffee grinder for making sun breads and cereals as well as a grain for other dishes.  In order to sprout wild amaranth, you must freeze the seeds for at least a month before they will sprout.