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Celosia spicata
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Amaranthaceae
Subfamily: Amaranthoideae
Genus: Celosia

Celosia (/sˈlʃiə/ see-LOH-shee-ə[2]) is a small genus of edible and ornamental plants in the amaranth family, Amaranthaceae. Its species are commonly known as woolflowers, or, if the flower heads are crested by fasciation, cockscombs.[3] The plants are well known in East Africa's highlands and are used under their Swahili name, mfungu.



The generic name is derived from the Ancient Greek word κήλεος (kḗleos), meaning "burning",[4] and refers to the colourful flame-like flower heads.[5]



As a garden plant


The plant is an annual. Seed production in these species can be very high, 200–700 kg per hectare. One ounce of seed may contain up to 43,000 seeds. One thousand seeds can weigh 1.0–1.2 grams. Depending upon the location and fertility of the soil, blossoms can last 8–10 weeks.[citation needed]

C. argentea and C. cristata are common garden ornamental plants.[6]

As food


Celosia argentea var. argentea or Lagos spinach (a.k.a. quail grass, soko, celosia, feather cockscomb) is a broadleaf annual leaf vegetable. It grows widespread across Mexico, where it is known as "velvet flower", northern South America, tropical Africa, the West Indies, South, East and Southeast Asia where it is grown as a native or naturalized wildflower, and is cultivated as a nutritious leafy green vegetable. It is traditional fare in the countries of Central and West Africa, and is one of the leading leafy green vegetables in Nigeria, where it is known as "soko yokoto", meaning "make husbands fat and happy".[7] In Spain it is known as "Rooster comb" because of its appearance.[citation needed]

As a grain, Celosia is a pseudo-cereal, not a true cereal.[citation needed]

These leaves, young stems and young inflorescences are used for stew, as they soften up readily in cooking. The leaves also have a soft texture and a mild spinach-like taste.[citation needed]

Flower of Celosia cristata
Woolflower or cockscomb—Celosia plumosa


Silver cockscomb Celosia argentea in Tirunelveli, India

Despite its African origin (a claim that is not without dispute), Celosia is known as a foodstuff in Indonesia and India. Moreover, in the future it might become more widely eaten, especially in the hot and malnourished regions of the equatorial zone. In that regard, it has already been hailed as the often-wished-for vegetable that "grows like a weed without demanding all the tender loving care that other vegetables seem to need"; one person said of his time growing it as this: "Every place I have tried it, it grows with no work. We have had no disease problems and very little insect damage. It reseeds itself abundantly and new plants have come up in the immediate vicinity."[8]

Works well in humid areas and is the most-used leafy plant in Nigeria. It grows in the wet season and grows well while other plants succumb to mold and other diseases like mildew. Though a very simple plant, Celosia does need moderate soil moisture.[citation needed]

Cultural Symbolism


The genus Celosia is also recognized as an important cultural symbol in Cebu, Philippines. The local government of Cebu City, together with Sinulog Foundation Incorporated (SFI), declared the Celosia flower as the official flower of the Sinulog Festival, the grandest festival in the Philippines held in honor of Santo Niño every third Sunday of January. The reason for the move was that the flowers' colors, which are predominantly red and yellow, resemble the colors of the cape, crown, and other regalia of the Infant Jesus. Celosia argentea flowers are still grown seasonally in Sirao Garden, located Barangay Sirao, Cebu City.

Selected species


Formerly placed here





  1. ^ "Genus: Celosia L." Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2001-08-07. Archived from the original on 2012-10-10. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
  2. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book. 1995. pp. 606–607.
  3. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Cock's-comb" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 628.
  4. ^ κήλεος. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project
  5. ^ "Celosia argentea (Plumosa Group) 'New Look'". Plant Finder. Missouri Botanical Garden. n.d. Retrieved 4 January 2023.
  6. ^ "Celosia argentea". www.nparks.gov.sg. Retrieved 2023-04-06.
  7. ^ Yarger, Larry. "Lagos Spinach" (PDF). ECHO. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 January 2017. Retrieved 2 February 2023.
  8. ^ Lost Crops of Africa. Vol. II: Vegetables. Washington, D.C, USA: The National Academies Press. 2006. p. 94. doi:10.17226/11763. ISBN 978-0-309-10333-6.
  9. ^ "Celosia". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
  10. ^ a b "GRIN Species Records of Celosia". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Archived from the original on 2009-01-20. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
  • Media related to Celosia at Wikimedia Commons
  • Data related to Celosia at Wikispecies