Amaranth Identification

Sorting out some amaranths


Amaranthus hybridus, aka Smooth Amaranth, stems can be red or green
Smooth Amaranth red leaf  hairy, green can be hairless.
Smooth Amaranth flowers are short, petiole one half the lenght of the leaf to as long as the leaf.
Smooth Amaranth flower
Smooth Amaranth, green form.  
Amaranthus palmeri, Palmer Amaranth: Female left, Male right
Palmer Amaranth, female flower is very long. Photo by Univ. of Fla. EDIS
Palmer Amaranth, female flower is bristly. Photo by Univ.of Fla. EDIS
Palmer Amaranth, male flower is also long. Photo by Univ. of Fla. EDIS
Palmer Amaranth, male flower is soft. Photo by Univ. of Fla. EDIS
Palmer Amaranth, leaf petiole is as long as leaf or longer. Leaf also has white ribs on back. Top of leaf may or may not have a white chevron watermark. Photo by Univ. of Fla. EDIS
Amaranth viridis, Calalu, Smooth Amaranth, leaves can notched. Vlita (βλήτα) in Greek
Smooth Amaranth’s leaves can have chevrons. It can also have many branches
Smooth Amaranth flowers can be very long a droopy
Smooth Amaranth, note red coloring of flower.
{ 27 comments… add one }
  • J.Michael November 26, 2012, 1:34 pm

    Thanks for the update Deane! I’m liking this style of posting. Be great if you could do it with some other plants.

  • Lee Wrubel December 20, 2012, 10:47 am

    This display has been extremely helpful.

  • Keith March 9, 2013, 11:24 pm

    Yup great job! U should find some herbicide resistant superweed amaranth and sell it. Shhh. Wonder if those “superweeds” are as poisonous as their GMO rivals.

  • Bob James March 25, 2013, 5:44 pm

    The photos were very helpful, but please add your usual summary at the end. Thanks.

  • Deborah Aldridge April 2, 2013, 11:23 am

    Well, now I’m completely confused. I don’t know if I have Palmer Amaranth or Smooth Amaranth, but it doesn’t matter. I’m still going to eat it.

  • Chaz Mikell May 26, 2013, 11:16 am

    Always remember: Amaranth (COmmon name ‘Pigweed’ is a concentrate-or of nitrates, plants from nitrate-fertilized area should only be eaten in moderatio. You are corect, volumes could be written about Amaranth. Mother Earth News in an article several years ago stated that amaranth could feed the world because it can be grown in arid and other extreme environs such as Etheopia where phamon is a constant problem. Makes you wonder why there is still starvation in the world when we know the answers but continue to send relief foods rather than knowledge to these areas. We have use the greens as well as grain on myshow ‘Cooking WIld’.

    • Gayatri December 6, 2017, 1:52 am

      Arn’t there many other Amaranths? We eat them in India. I have personally picked many other varieties and eaten them. One I have picked in the past even has prickly thorn like things.

  • BeckyLadakh May 27, 2013, 2:37 am

    Last year here in the Himalayas, we bought seeds from an old guy selling them on the street side. Anything we didn’t have, we bought and planted one garden bed. One was some kind of red amaranth that made a nice pot herb, and gave off strong dark pink colouring in the food. When we made homemade ketchup, it added a rich red to the orangey tomato red, and it lent a nice vegetable flavor overtone. But this year we can’t remember the name, can’t find the old seed seller, and so we can’t plant it again! Oh well.

    • CeLia July 20, 2013, 1:39 pm

      We have those here in Malaysia. 🙂
      Pretty cheap and easy to get em too. Let me know if you want some. I can send. I am actually encouraging my local communities around Malaysia to grow their own edible gardens and forage more from surrounding areas. I forage weeds for my daily salads as well as trying out gardening in confine spaces.

      We also have these wild amarath seeds if anyone’s interested. Not that I am selling em. Would probably send you some if you can send me some seeds too from your sides. 🙂


      • Michael Coutts October 28, 2014, 8:58 pm

        It isn’t a good idea to mail seeds to other countries or areas as the new plants could take hold and crowd out other native plants both edible and non edible In fact it is illegal in most countries too.

    • Victoria July 4, 2016, 1:38 am

      “Loves lie Bleeding” is the name of the red Amaranth I believe you are looking for. The seeds get very red and beautiful.

      • Gayatri December 6, 2017, 1:55 am

        Victoria, There is a red Amaranth in those parts of the world that is not “Loves lie Bleeding”. So I still wonder. Say is “Loves lie Bleeding” edible?

  • herb butterfield June 22, 2013, 10:58 pm

    I love to eat lambs quarter or pigweed as some call it, but I always thought that the purple coloring on the leaves indicated somthing about the soil. Is this true?

    • Green Deane June 23, 2013, 6:48 pm

      No. While “discoloration” can be an indicator of disease, insects or soil issue, some plants just are multi-colored and Chenoposiums and Amaranths fit the bill.

    • Eric June 26, 2013, 3:04 pm

      the purple coloration in Chenopodium is due to the accumulation of betalains. it is (often) a sign of stress in the plant (insufficient or too much N? one of those), but i cannot imagine it would be a problem for you to eat (but who knows!).

    • Jaclyn July 12, 2013, 10:20 am

      Lambs quarter is not the same thing as Amaranth.
      Lambs quarter is Chenopodium spp.
      Amaranth is Amaranthus spp.

  • Jaclyn July 12, 2013, 12:09 am

    I was yanking these out of my garden. Oppsy! I can’t wait too try the leaves and make grain flower with them. I should have known better. Thank!

    • Gayatri December 6, 2017, 1:58 am

      Some are to be eaten as grains and some for their leaves. To use as grain the variety should have fat seeds or else it is not worth the trouble.

  • Richard Wilk July 17, 2013, 4:36 pm

    Callaloo is a very common variety of Amaranth throughout the Caribbean and Latin America (though in some places Callaloo refers to young leaves of xanthosoma, colocasia, or even allocasia, or to a dish made with greens and other ingredients). It is often self-seeding, since people pick the leaves but generally do not eat the seeds (though young flowering heads are often boiled up along with the leaves). So it is kind of semi-domesticate – truly wild plants tend to have smaller leaves, bigger seed heads, and more fiber.

  • Chris January 13, 2014, 9:33 pm

    What is the deal with “nitrates”, they make you sick or poison you??

    • Erika July 24, 2014, 5:08 pm

      It was thought that the nitrates in food concentrated in your kidneys and could lead to kidney stones. Now science is not sure. What we do know is that nitrates are higher in well fertilized plants and in certain green vegetables – spinach and any green that can be used as a spinach substitute basically. They seem to concentrate the nitrates in the parts we eat. FWIW they may be harder on people with certain diseases that affect the kidneys, so that needs to be taken into consideration.

      As far as that goes, I lived on cooked greens (canned spinach was all I could keep down…) for 3 months while I was pregnant with no ill effects… my kid turned out fine, kidneys still work.

  • Mika Court July 4, 2014, 7:51 am

    I have the smooth amaranth growing in my garden in Greece. Are all of the parts of the plant edible? Any recipes to share? Thank you for your posts. Very helpful! cheers, Mika

    • Green Deane July 7, 2014, 3:12 pm

      When young and tender all the above ground parts of the Amaranthus species is edible.

    • Gayatri December 6, 2017, 2:03 am

      Cook them as you would any other greens. They have a great flavor. The leaves don’t have to be particularly young, just not at the end of their lives.

  • John Bland February 22, 2017, 5:18 pm

    I found a great spot at a local construction site
    Located next to the backside of The Daytona Speedway and the smaller side of the Airpor(Cesnas and smaller planes fly out of)
    There is a new Portion of Emery Riddle Flight School going up across the small road id a drain ditch and a row ow of untaimed grass and WEEDSSSS. haha.
    I found atleast 8 identifiable edible species growing to include. Tansy Mustard , another yellow flowered mustard,Spiderwart,of course peppergrass, Indian Plantain Thistle the pricly kind and a few more I could not identify.
    Just thought you and a few others may want to see before they fade away.

    P.S. I plan on picking some of the mustard for home consumtion but will leave a bit for any others whom may be interested.


    • Yizack June 26, 2017, 7:19 pm

      Be careful! There may be lot of chemicals!

    • Gayatri December 6, 2017, 2:05 am

      I would be careful if they are under a flight path.


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