Redroot Amaranth

Redroot Amaranth
Redroot Amaranth. Amaranthus retroflexus.
Amaranthaceae, the amaranth family.

Plant: Upright, branching plant, 2'-6' high with smooth stem and leaves, and terminal and axillary, hairy-looking, spikes or panicles of small greenish flowers. Presumably has reddish roots. Annual.
Flowers: Tiny, greenish, 1/8", with 5 spiky, extended sepals that give the spikelike clusters a coarsely hairy appearance. Flowers in tight, spikelike clusters or panicles thereof, at ends of branches and in axils.
Leaves: Alternate, ovate or rhombic, to about 6", smooth-margined, shiny-green, with medium petioles.
Fruit: Small, with one black seed.
Blooming: August-October
Habitat: Gardens, fields, roadsides, waste areas, disturbed soil.

Comments: This plant, introduced from tropical America, is usually considered a weed, and has many common names, including Common Amaranth, Green Amaranth, Redroot Pigweed, and Rough Pigweed. The foliage can be eaten as a cooked potherb, though it contains some oxalic acid, and can be high in nitrates, and should be cooked with a change of water. The seeds are valuable forage for a variety of birds.

Where to find it: Mostly in the gardens near the lodge and surrounding weedy areas.