These plants grow 90 centimeters to 150 centimeters tall,
and they are abundant weeds in many parts of the world. All of
them have alternate simple leaves. They may have some red color
present on the stems. They bear minute, greenish flowers in dense
clusters at the top of the plants. Their seeds may be brown or
black in weedy species and light-colored in domestic species.
There are at least 60 species of amaranth.
Habitat and Distribution
Look for amaranth along roadsides, in disturbed waste areas,
or as weeds in crops throughout the world. Some amaranth species
have been grown as a grain crop and a garden vegetable in various
parts of the world, especially in South America.
All parts of the plant are edible, but some may have sharp
spines you should remove before eating. The young plants or the
growing tips of older plants are an excellent vegetable. Simply
boil the young plants or eat them raw. Their seeds are very nutritious.
Shake the tops of older plants to get the seeds. Eat the seeds
raw, boiled, ground into flour, or popped like popcorn.
I have tried popping these seeds like popcorn. Hope you have
more luck than I did. In any case, these plants have been tested
and proven to be very rich in protein and many vitamins.
Several amaranth species are raised for their seeds in Asia
and the Americas. This "grain" contains no gluten,
making if safe to for individuals with gluten sensitivities.
Amaranth seeds are rich in the essential amino acid lysine. Other
grains such as wheat and corn are rich in amino acids that amaranth
lacks. These grains can complement each other, so if you eat
them in the wild try to have some corn chips while you are at