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Amaranthus viridis L. 1763
pronounced am-ah-AN-thuss VEER-id-iss
(Amaranthaceae – the amaranth family)
common names: Green Amaranth
Amaranthus comes from the Greek word αμαραντος (amarantos), unfading;viridis is Latin for ‘green’. As this plant is found all over the tropical and sub-tropical world, there are common names for it in a great number of languages. My favourite of those I have seen is the Tongan, longolongo’uha; a close second is that from the Kerala language of South India, where it is kuppacheera. The place of origin of the plant is obscure, but it very possibly was in South America.
This is a vigorous annual herb that can grow to a height of about 1 m, but it is more often less than half of that height. The stems are generally rounded, sometimes with ridges, and are glabrous. The leaves are a mid to light green, deeply veined, and up to 15 cm long. They have a long leaf stalk, and a broad base tapering to a pointed tip.
The flowers are small and green, sometimes with a reddish tinge, in slender axillary or terminal and often paniculate spikes, sometimes in axillary clusters in the lower part of the plant. Both sexes are mixed throughout the spikes, but pistillate flowers are more numerous.
The fruits are subglobose, less than 1.5 mm long, not or only slightly exceeding the sepals, indehiscent or rupturing irregularly at maturity, and very wrinkled. The seeds are dark brown to black, more-or-less shiny, slightly flattened, 1 mm or so long.
The plant is usually regarded as a weed, but is sometimes cultivated for its edible leaves; it is often prostrate or flattened, and found in waysides, vacant lots, crevices between paving stones, and on the edges of asphalt strips.
This is a food plant for the larvae of the Dark Grass Blue Butterfly Zizeeria karsandra.
It is often eaten as a vegetable in South India. In Greece it is called βλητα (bleta) and is used in various dishes, boiled and served with olive oil and lemon. It is also eaten in Africa. In developing countries, this little-known vegetable has the potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development, and support sustainable land care.
Amaranthus viridis is used as a medicinal herb in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, under the Sanskrit name of Tanduliya. It is an astringent, and a vermifuge. A decoction of the entire plant is used to stop dysentery and inflammation The root juice is used to treat inflammation during urination. It is also taken to treat constipation.
Other uses for the plant include the making of dyes – yellow and green dyes can be obtained from it.
Information about medicinal qualities of plants, or about their use as medicines, is for interest only, and is not intended to be used as a guide for the treatment of medical conditions.
Photographs taken at Picnic Bay 2010
Page last updated 13th July 2018