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Amaranthus_hypochondriacus - L.

Common Name Prince's Feather, Prince-of-wales feather
Family Amaranthaceae
USDA hardiness 3-10
Known Hazards No members of this genus are known to be poisonous, but when grown on nitrogen-rich soils they are known to concentrate nitrates in the leaves. This is especially noticeable on land where chemical fertilizers are used. Nitrates are implicated in stomach cancers, blue babies and some other health problems. It is inadvisable, therefore, to eat this plant if it is grown inorganically.
Habitats A weed of wasteland and agricultural land.
Range Southern N. America.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full sun
Amaranthus_hypochondriacus Prince


commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Magnus_Manske
Amaranthus_hypochondriacus Prince
commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Magnus_Manske

 

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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Amaranthus_hypochondriacus is a ANNUAL/PERENNIAL growing to 1.2 m (4ft) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 4 and is frost tender. It is in leaf from April to October, in flower from July to August, and the seeds ripen from August to September. The species is monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and is pollinated by Wind. The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

A. hybridus hypochondriachus. (L.)Thell.

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

Young leaves - cooked as a spinach[183, 238]. Rich in vitamins and minerals, they have a mild flavour[K]. Seed - raw or cooked. They can be used as a cereal substitute. They can also be popped in much the same way as popcorn[183]. The seed can be soaked for 12 hours in warm water and then allowed to sprout for about 11 days[244]. They can then be added to salads[183]. Very small but the seed is easy to harvest and very nutritious. The seed can be cooked whole, and becomes very gelatinous like this, but it is rather difficult to crush all of the small seeds in the mouth and thus some of the seed will pass right through the digestive system without being assimilated[K]. A red pigment obtained from the plant is used as a food colouring[238].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.


The whole plant contains tannin and is astringent[238, 254]. It is used internally in the treatment of diarrhoea and excessive menstruation[238, 254]. It can be used as a gargle to soothe inflammation of the pharynx and to hasten the healing of ulcerated mouths[254], whilst it can also be applied externally to treat vaginal discharges, nosebleeds and wounds[238]. The plant can be used fresh or it can also be harvested when coming into flower and dried for later use[238].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Yellow and green dyes can be obtained from the whole plant[168]. A red dye obtained from the plant (the report does not specify which part of the plant) is used as a colouring in foods and medicines[238].

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Prefers a well-drained fertile soil in a sunny position[200]. Requires a hot sheltered position if it is to do well[K]. Tolerates a pH in the range 5.2 to 7.5. Plants should not be given inorganic fertilizers, see notes above on toxicity. Often cultivated, especially in tropical areas, for its edible leaves and seeds, there are many named varieties[183]. This is the most robust and highest yielding of the grain amaranths, though it is late maturing and therefore less suitable for northern areas[183]. Most if not all members of this genus photosynthesize by a more efficient method than most plants. Called the 'C4 carbon-fixation pathway', this process is particularly efficient at high temperatures, in bright sunlight and under dry conditions[196]. In garden design, as well as the above-ground architecture of a plant, root structure considerations help in choosing plants that work together for their optimal soil requirements including nutrients and water. The root pattern is clumping, giving the plant a clumping habit. The predictable growth behaviour makes it easier to maintain without having to apply containment methods[2-1].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - sow late spring in situ. An earlier sowing can be made in a greenhouse and the plants put out after the last expected frosts. Germination is usually rapid and good if the soil is warm[133]. A drop in temperature overnight aids germination[133]. Cuttings of growing plants root easily[206].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

NORTHERN AMERICA: Kansas, Mexico Central, Mexico Gulf, Mexico Northeast, Mexico Northwest, Mexico Southwest, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas, Wisconsin,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Amaranthus hypochondriacusPrince's Feather, Prince-of-wales featherAnnual/Perennial1.2 3-10  LMHNM432

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.

 

Expert comment

Author

L.

Botanical References

200266

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

TERRI   Sun Mar 4 2007

WHAT IS AMARANTHUS HYBRIDUS? THIS IS THE NAME USED FROM WHERE I PURCHASED MY SEEDS, BUT IN THE PHOTO SHOWN FOR SEEDS THE LEAVES ARE GREEN, MINE ARE RED...HOW CAN I DISTINGUISH THIS PLANT, ACCORDING TO ENCYCLOPEDIA OF HERBS BY DENI BOWN...MY PLANT IS AMARANTHUS HYPOCHONDRIACUS, MY CURIOSITY IS CAN I USE THIS PLANT MEDICINALLY AND EXACTLY WHAT PLANT DO I HAVE IN MY GARDEN..ANY INPUT, ADVICE

Ken Fern, Plants for a Future   Mon Mar 5 2007

The identification of many amaranth species is difficult at the best, and A. hybridus is one of the most difficult because it is so variable. Many different forms have been produced over the years, some with red leaves. Many of its forms are commonly mis-identified as A. hypochondriacus or other species. I would advise you to visit the on-line Flora of North America where there is quite a lot of information on this. Try going to http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=200006982 first. You can certainly use your plant medicinally.

elsa heeps   Tue Jul 1 2008

Hi there I live on vancouver island and am wondering if you have a source for seed for this plant, thanks, Elsa

C.   Sun Nov 8 2009

I know you say that black seeded varieties of Amaranthus are inedible, and tan or white seeded are, but are red seeded Amaranthus edible? Thank you.

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