Amaranthus hypochondriacus

Botanical Name : Amaranthus hypochondriacus
Family: Amaranthaceae
Genus: Amaranthus
Species: A. hypochondriacus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Caryophyllales

Synonyms: Love-Lies-Bleeding. Red Cockscomb. Velvet Flower.

Common Names :   Amaranths,Prince-of-Wales feather or prince’s feather (it is called quelite, blero and quintonil in Spanish.)

Habitat: The Amaranths are met with most abundantly in the tropics, especially in tropical America, but are not plentiful in cold countries.It grows as weed of wasteland and agricultural land.

Many species are widely distributed as pernicious weeds. Their economic importance is slight, their properties chiefly proteid nutrient. Many abound in mucilage and sugar and many species are used as pot-herbs, resembling those of Chenopodiaceae. Many, also, are excellent fodder-plants, though not cultivated.

Description;
Amaranthus hypochondriacus is a annual herb, growing to 1.2 m (4ft) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in).
It is frost tender. It is in leaf 10-Apr It is in flower from Jul to August, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind, self.The plant is self-fertile.  CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Cultivation:                                            
Prefers a well-drained fertile soil in a sunny position. Requires a hot sheltered position if it is to do well. Tolerates a pH in the range 5.2 to 7.5. Plants should not be given inorganic fertilizers, see notes above on toxicity. Often cultivated, especially in tropical areas, for its edible leaves and seeds, there are many named varieties. This is the most robust and highest yielding of the grain amaranths, though it is late maturing and therefore less suitable for northern areas. Most if not all members of this genus photosynthesize by a more efficient method than most plants. Called the ‘C4 carbon-fixation pathway’, this process is particularly efficient at high temperatures, in bright sunlight and under dry conditions.

Propagation: 
Seed – sow late spring in situ. An earlier sowing can be made in a greenhouse and the plants put out after the last expected frosts. Germination is usually rapid and good if the soil is warm. A drop in temperature overnight aids germination. Cuttings of growing plants root easily

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Edible Uses:    
Young leaves are eaten cooked as a spinach. Rich in vitamins and minerals, they have a mild flavour.

Seed are eaten raw or cooked. They can be used as a cereal substitute. They can also be popped in much the same way as popcorn. The seed can be soaked for 12 hours in warm water and then allowed to sprout for about 11 days. They can then be added to salads. Very small but the seed is easy to harvest and very nutritious. The seed can be cooked whole, and becomes very gelatinous like this, but it is rather difficult to crush all of the small seeds in the mouth and thus some of the seed will pass right through the digestive system without being assimilated. A red pigment obtained from the plant is used as a food colouring.

 

Medicinal Uses:
The whole plant contains tannin and is astringent. It is used internally in the treatment of diarrhoea and excessive menstruation. It can be used as a gargle to soothe inflammation of the pharynx and to hasten the healing of ulcerated mouths, whilst it can also be applied externally to treat vaginal discharges, nosebleeds and wounds. The plant can be used fresh or it can also be harvested when coming into flower and dried for later use.

Other Uses
Dye…..Yellow and green dyes can be obtained from the whole plant. A red dye obtained from the plant (the report does not specify which part of the plant) is used as a colouring in foods and medicines.

Known Hazards:  No members of this genus are known to be poisonous, but when grown on nitrogen-rich soils they are known to concentrate nitrates in the leaves. This is especially noticeable on land where chemical fertilizers are used. Nitrates are implicated in stomach cancers, blue babies and some other health problems. It is inadvisable, therefore, to eat this plant if it is grown inorganically.

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/amara030.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amaranthus_hypochondriacus
http://www.pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?LatinName=Amaranthus+hypochondriacus

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