AmaranthAmaranth is a flowering plant genus in the family Amaranthaceae. Species in this genus are considered weeds in many places, but others are grown as ornamental plants. Amaranthus is a cosmopolitan genus of annual or short-lived perennial plants collectively known as amaranths. Some amaranth species are cultivated as leaf vegetables, pseudocereals, and ornamental plants. Most of the Amaranthus species are summer annual weeds and are commonly referred to as pigweeds.
The leaves are alternate or opposite, without stipules. The leaf blades often called "green swords", may be smooth-edged or deeply lobed, and usually contain hairs. The leaves of some species have a spicy scent when crushed. Amaranthus species vary in size from small alpine herbs 20 centimeters (8 inches) tall, to large trees. The leaves are variable in shape, often lobed or sinuate. All amaranth species have leafy stems that may be erect or prostrate, and some species have sub-aquatic leave
The flowers are born in dense spikelike clusters; each flower is about 1 to 2 centimeters (0.4-0.8 inches) long, with a bristle-like stigma at the tip. The color of the flowers varies widely, ranging from pale yellow to deep scarlet or burgundy, and in some species the flowers' color changes during development.
Amaranth means “unfading” in Greek. The genus name Amaranthus retroflexus has been used for a long time as a crop that gives high nutrition value and high yield. This plant is a weed and has been designated as one of the backyard nuisance plants. It is a crop that has many medicinal properties and its leaves, seeds, and roots could be used to cure various diseases like hemorrhoids, cancer, and leukemia.
The amaranth flower gives out heat during night time which acts as a magnet for phlox moth which in turn is pollinated by night insects in the early morning. The most important food crop that has been cultivated for thousands of years is amaranth.
Amphiphilous species like Amaranthus hybridus, A. hypochondriacus, and A. gangeticus are also used as vegetable crops locally known as “kuppal” and “thotakura”. Amaranthus tricolor is used as a vegetable known as “chaulai ke patte”, “thotakura”, etc., in Chhattisgarh and Bihar. Amaranth leaves are eaten as a leaf vegetable either raw or steamed in many parts of India.