Amaranth – Amaranthus spp.


Amaranth was a sacred food of the Aztecs and in Asia, varieties of Amaranthus tricolor have been grown as a green vegetable since the beginning of recorded history.

Grain amaranth plants can grow 3m tall and 1m wide and the towering red and gold seed heads form a striking backdrop to any garden. Leaf amaranth varieties usually grow around 1m high, with regular harvesting reducing their size.


The leaves of all amaranth species are high in calcium and iron, but have a high oxalic acid content which diminishes nutritionally available calcium. Amaranth seeds are high in lysine, an important amino acid that is missing in most grain crops. This means that amaranth, when combined with another grain, provides a complete protein.


The leaves of both plants are edible, or the seeds can be collected as grain.


Amaranths are wind and rarely, insect pollinated producing male and female flowers on the same plant.

Cover flower heads with tall bags to prevent crossing. To avoid inbreeding depression grow 5 or more plants closely together. Once the flower heads have formed but before any individual flowers open, put a bag over all 5 heads. The wind and a regular shake will move pollen from the male to the female flowers. Leave it in place until seeds are harvested, as flowers are produced even after seeds at the bottom of the head are mature.

Isolation distance

The minimum between two leaf amaranth varieties is 175m with a tall obstacle in the way. Between two grain amaranth species it is around 2 miles to ensure seed purity


The easiest method is to collect the entire crop of seed heads when most seeds are ripe. Place them in a warm shaded place to finish drying, then bang them together over a sheet. For smaller amounts rub them together over a bowl. Amaranth seeds mature unevenly so to get the most seed, shake the heads into a bag each day. For larger amounts, put seed heads on a tarp, fold over stamp on them You may need to move the heads around to free all the seeds. Use the bowl method to remove the chaff. When handling seed heads wear gloves, the flowers are sharp.


Amaranth is a long-lived seed and will last up to 5 years in the open.

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