Amaranth, Red Root Pigweed

 

Red Root Pigweed also known as Amaranth have green leaves and stalks with a pink root.

The shapes and sizes of the Pigweed vary, but they all have medium to large sized alternating simple oval-shaped leaves and stems with some red coloration. A number of upright varieties like Palmer pigweed and smooth pigweed can grow 3 to 10 feet  tall with stout stems. However, the prostrate pigweed grows close to the ground and has smaller leaves. The greenish flowers of amaranth plants form a dense cluster at the tops of the plants of the upright varieties or among the leaves of the prostrate pigweed. The lens-shaped amaranth seeds are dark brown or black colored in weedy species and light-colored in domestic species.

 

The young plants and growing tips of older plants can be boiled like spinach or eaten raw as salad. Many other species of amaranth are grown as food crops in other countries. Native Americans collected the seeds and ground them into a meal. As with most greens the youngest are the best. They can collect high levels of nitrates. It's best to avoid any that are growing in lawns and areas that may have been fertilized with a high nitrogen fertilizer.

 

The seeds of pigweed can be collected by shaking the tops of the older plants. These seeds may be eaten raw, cooked as hot cereal or mush, ground into flour or,  popped like popcorn. Amaranth seeds are high in protein, high in fiber content, and contain nutritionally siginificant levels of Vitamins A and C. The greens are rich in iron, calcium, niacin, and vitamins A and C. When choosing amaranth plants to eat remove any sharp spins that may be present on some varieties.

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