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Amaranthus palmeri

Annuals, Edible Plants

Palmer amaranth, also known as Palmer pigweed, is an extremely aggressive, fast-growing species that has become a serious weed problem in vegetable and row crops in the southern half of the United States in recent years.   It has also been introduced to Europe, Australia, and other areas. The plant is fast-growing (up to 1 inch a day) and highly competitive.  It is adapted to heat and extremely low rainfall.

Palmer amaranth is a tall, erect, branching summer annual, commonly reaching heights of 6–8 feet, and occasionally 10 feet or more. Stems and foliage are mostly smooth and lacking hairs (glabrous). Leaves have fairly long petioles and are arranged symmetrically around the stem, giving the plant a distinctly pointsettia-like appearance when viewed from above. Petioles are longer than with common pigweed.  Leaf blades are elliptical to diamond-shaped with pointed tips, and measure 0.6–3 inches long by 0.4–1.5 inches wide.

Male and female flowers form on separate plants (dioecious).  The flowers form on spikes up to 18 inches long.  Female flowers are bristly to the touch and male spikes are softer. This ameranth has rapid seed germination and growth and larger root structures that other species. One plant can produce up to 500,000 seeds.  Cultivation and flaming are most effective on plants that are less than 1 inch tall.

full sun
6-8 feet
The leaves and seeds are eaten. The seeds can be ground into a flour. The leaves can be cooked or dried.
edible, edible weed, drought tolerant, weed

NCCES plant id: 2845

Amaranthus palmeri Leaves
University of Delaware Carvel REC, CC BY - 2.0
Amaranthus palmeri Whole plant
University of Delaware Carvel REC, CC BY - 2.0
Amaranthus palmeri Flower
Patrick Alexander, CC BY-NC-ND - 2.0
Amaranthus palmeri Seeds
University of Delaware Carvel REC, CC BY - 2.0