Also bearing the name of Pigweed, the Amaranthus plant is usually regarded as weed, but people often use it as food, for its leaves as vegetables, and for its seeds as cereals. Mostly, the Amaranthus is a decorative flower and it also serves as a special ingredient to make a vivid red dye, which is known to have been used by the Hopi Ameridians, and is now, distributed worldwide, bearing the name of Red No.2 in America, while Europeans call it E123.
Comprising of nearly 60 species, the Amaranthus genus belongs to the Amaranthaceae family and it describes plants with very strong colors, mainly red or variations from red. Although its taxonomy is yet difficult to classify, most scientists acknowledge that although hard to include in sub-genera and species, this genus has basic characteristics regarding color or even shape and can be easily recognized.
Amongst its worldwide usages, the Amaranthus was used as grain, being a traditional food plant in Africa, but also highly cultivated in Asia and America. The Amaranthus seeds are considered to be richer in proteins that most of the cereals we’re used to eat and nowadays they are dipped in chocolate or honey and are regarded as snacks. As vegetables, the Amaranthus plants are largely cultivated in Asia, Western Africa or even Greece. Amaranthus as vegetable is used for making soup or other traditional dishes, being very healthy and containing low carbohydrates. The Amaranthus cruentus, blitum, dubius and tricolor are amongst the 4 species known to be cultivated as vegetables.
The medicinal purpose of the Amaranthus is well-documented and it seems that the plant contains vitamins such as Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, potassium and even zinc. Very rich in vitamins, the Amaranthus is used in the treatment of various diseases starting from hypertension and high cholesterol, to kidney disorders, gout or even rheumatism.
Some species of the Amaranthus plants are considered to be invasive flowers which can easily ruin the crops of farmers, as they have a really fast growing process and have an extended period of germination. As weed, the Amaranthus is considered amongst the most dangerous and troublesome weeds in the south east.
As flower, the Amaranthus blossoms in many colors, including red, blue, purple or golden. This flower has a vast literary symbolism, as its name was mentioned by Aesop, Milton, or Coleridge in their greatest literary works, while great rock bands have recurred to this flower as inspiration for their songs, mentioning artists and bands such as Enya, Nightwish, AFI or Virgin Steele.
Amaranthus Pictures Gallery