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Amaranthus retroflexus

Previously known as:

  • Amaranthus retroflexus var. salicifolius
Phonetic Spelling
am-a-RAN-thus ret-roh-FLEKS-us
This plant has high severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Pigweed is a multi-stemmed summer annual in the Amaranth family.  Considered a weed, it can be found growing in wastelands, prairies, fallow fields, farm lots, gravelly areas, and cultivated fields. Its invasiveness causes yield loss in many vegetable row crops.   It grows unbranched or with minimal branches.  

The seeds are edible and can be eaten raw or cooked.  They are sometimes ground into a powder and eaten as a substitute for cereal.  Sprouts can be added to salads.  Although portions of this plant are edible, ingestion is detrimental to pigs, cattle, sheep, goats, and horses.  

This variety of pigweed is different in appearance than other common weeds in the same family.  However, it can be identified by its shorter and stouter growth habit.  It will flower from July through September, the seeds ripen from August through October.  

It is typically pollinated by the wind.  

Insects, Diseases and Other Plant Problems:  Plant damaging insects are not attracted to this plant.  

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#drought tolerant#weed#weedy#summer annual weed#edible seeds#edible leaves#wind pollinated#edible#warm season weed
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#drought tolerant#weed#weedy#summer annual weed#edible seeds#edible leaves#wind pollinated#edible#warm season weed
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Amaranthus
    Species:
    retroflexus
    Family:
    Amaranthaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The seeds may be eaten, raw or cooked, ground into a flour, or sprouted. The young leaves are also edible.
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Central and Eastern North America
    Distribution:
    This plant is now found nearly worldwide as an introduced plant.
    Wildlife Value:
    A food source for birds, butterflies, moths, insects and small mammals.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Wildlife Food Source
    Edibility:
    The seeds may be eaten raw, or toasted. They can also be sprouted. Ground seeds can be used as a cereal. Young leaves may be eaten raw or cooked.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Herb
    Native Plant
    Weed
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b, 10a, 10b, 11a, 11b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Achene
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    One glossy black to dark reddish brown seed is revealed when the bladder-like capsule splits, circumferentially, at maturity. As many as 117,000 seeds can be produced per plant.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Panicle
    Spike
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    > 6 inches
    Flower Description:
    Numerous, small, green monoecious flowers with prominent bracts that are longer than their tepals. Flowers clustered in spikes on panicles.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Feel:
    Smooth
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Cordate
    Elliptical
    Ovate
    Rhomboidal
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Undulate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are smaller in the upper portion of the central stem. Each leaf base is rounded, the tip can be acute, obtuse, emarginate, or rounded.. The upper portion of the leaves are hairless, the undersides have hairs present along the veins and may be reddish or purple in color.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Round
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    The central stem is stout, rounded, veined and covered with white hairs. The stems are reddish near the base of the plant.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Coastal
    Meadow
    Slope/Bank
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Edible Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Attracts:
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Problems:
    Problem for Horses
    Weedy
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    High
    Poison Symptoms:
    Nitrate poisoning in horses and ruminants is characterized by a bluish cast to the mucous membranes, respiratory distress, weakness and trembling. High oxalate ingestion can result in kidney failure.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Pigweeds accumulate nitrates, which can lead to nitrate poisoning in grazing animals such as horses and ruminants. Levels may b
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Leaves
    Stems