Amaranthus retroflexus is a species of flowering plant in the Amaranthaceae family with several common names, including red-root amaranth, redroot pigweed, red-rooted pigweed, common amaranth, pigweed amaranth, and common tumbleweed.
Amaranthus retroflexus, true to one of its common names, forms a tumbleweed. It is native to the tropical Americas, but is widespread as an introduced species on most continents in a great number of habitats. This is an erect, annual herb reaching a maximum height near 3 m. The leaves are nearly 15 cm long on large individuals, the ones higher on the stem having a lance shape and those lower on the plant diamond or oval in shape. The plant is monoecious, with individuals bearing both male and female flowers. The inflorescence is a large, dense cluster of flowers interspersed with spiny green bracts. The fruit is a capsule less than 2 mm long with a "lid" which opens to reveal a tiny black seed. Another of A. retroflexus's common names, pigweed, stems from the fact that it grows where hogs are pasture-fed.
This plant is eaten as a vegetable in different places of the world. No species of genus Amaranthus is known to be poisonous, but the leaves contain oxalic acid and may contain nitrates if grown in nitrate-rich soils, so the water should be discarded after boiling.
A. retroflexus was used for a multitude of food and medicinal purposes by many Native American groups.
Use as fodder
- Jepson Manual Treatment
- USDA Plants Profile
- Flora of North America
- Photo gallery
- Amaranthus retroflexus L. Medicinal Plant Images Database (School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University) (traditional Chinese) (English)