Amaranthus hybridus L.

Green Amaranth

Amaranthus hybridus plant

Family - Amaranthaceae

Habit - Annual monoecious forb.

Stems - Ascending to erect, to 2 m, pubescent, unarmed.

Amaranthus hybridus stemStem.

Leaves - Alternate, petiolate. Blades 2-15 cm long, lanceolate to ovate or elliptic, bluntly or sharply pointed, often minutely notched at the tip, narrowed or tapered at the base, the surfaces sparsely to moderately pubescent, mostly along the veins with inconspicuous, crinkled, multicellular hairs, the upper surface sometimes glabrous or nearly so.

Amaranthus hybridus leavesLeaves.

Inflorescence - Dull or grayish green, occasionally reddish-tinged, axillary and terminal, the axillary inflorescences short spikes or less commonly dense globose clusters, the terminal inflorescence usually a panicle with numerous clusters of short, dense spikes branching along most of the axis, the flowers mostly continuous along the spikes, the tip often curved or nodding, the main axis and branches moderately to densely pubescent with mostly crinkled, multicellular hairs. Bracts 2-4 mm long, the main body similar in size to the fruits, but the entire structure (including the awnlike extension of the midrib) conspicuously longer than the fruits, lanceolate to ovate, narrowed or tapered to a sharply pointed tip, with a strongly thickened green midrib and narrow or broad, thin, papery margins, the midrib usually extending beyond the main body as a short awn, spinelike at maturity.

Amaranthus hybridus inflorescenceA mature inflorescence.

Flowers - Staminate flowers with 5 sepals, these 1.5-2.3 mm long, straight, elliptic to oblong-ovate, sharply pointed, usually tapered to a short, awnlike extension of the midrib. Pistillate flowers with 5 sepals, these 1.5-2.3 mm long, otherwise similar to sepals of staminate flowers. Petals absent. Stamens 5. Stigmas 3, erect or less commonly somewhat spreading. Ovule 1.

Amaranthus hybridus flowersFlowers.

Fruits - Fruits 1.2-2.0 mm long, with circumscissile dehiscence, the surface finely wrinkled above the midpoint when dry. Seeds 0.8-1.2 mm in diameter, rounded along the rim, the surface reddish brown to more commonly black, shiny.

Flowering - July - October.

Habitat - Waste ground, cultivated fields, disturbed sites, roadsides, railroads.

Origin - Native to the U.S.?

Other info. - This weedy species can be found throughout Missouri and is quite common in the habitats mentioned above. The plant can get quite robust and attain a height of around 1 m.

A. hybridus is an edible plant which is best eaten when young. Traditionally the plant was used to treat a variety of ailments. A tea made from the leaves was thought to stop bleeding from ulcers and cure diarrhea.

Photographs taken off Main St., Ellington, MO., 7-18-04.


BackHome