Sturdy, upright annual growing to about 3 ft (1 m). Has deeply veined, lance shaped, purple-green leaves that grow to 6 in (15 cm) and tufts of small, deep crimson flowers on long spikes.
Habitat & Cultivation
Native to India, amaranth grows wild in many countries, including the U.S. A common garden plant, it is harvested when in flower in late summer and early autumn.
Amaranth contains tannins, including a red pigment used to dye foods and medicines.
History & Folklore
Amaranth comes from the Greek word meaning “unwithering.” The amaranth was sacred to the goddess Artemis, worshipped at Ephesus, and was thought to have special healing powers. As a symbol of immortality, it was used to decorate tombs and images of the gods.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Amaranth is an astringent herb that is used primarily to reduce blood loss and to treat diarrhea. A decoction of amaranth is taken as a remedy in cases of heavy menstrual bleeding, excessive vaginal discharge, diarrhea, and dysentery. It is also used as a gargle to soothe inflammation of the pharynx and to hasten the healing of canker sores.
Quinoa (A. caudatus, also known as Inca wheat) is a nutritious Andean grain. It is used to make bread and is eaten in salads. The seeds of A. grandiflorus are used as a foodstuff by Australian Aborigines.