Monday, February 25, 2013

What's that? Amourous amaranth

(Thanks to John for this)

...Well maybe not amourous but I am really attracted to the deep burgundy colour of the dense long plumes of flowers. This would be the aptly named cultivar 'Amaranth Burgundy' (Amaranthus caudatus) according to my Organic Gardening book (Botanica's Pocket Organic Gardening, Random House 2004 pp 158-159).

Amaranth (the purple streak) amongst the pumpkins 
Apparently very small seeds the size of a poppy seeds will appear all over the plume of the flowers in abundance. It is a grain crop in South America and Mexico and is also known as Inca wheat or Kiwicha. My book reckons it has been calculted that there are more than 100,000 seeds per plant. I pity the poor buggers who had to do all that counting.

This would also indicate that it would spread easily which explains Diana's suggestion last week in the garden to start removing the flowers from the plants.

The seeds are reallly nutritious and are quite popular as a puffed breakfast cereal in health food stores. I would be interested to let one or two plants go to seed to see if we could harvest them before the seeds get blown to all parts of the garden. Is this worth a try?

I've been eating the leaves and found them quite tasty although I can't really describe what the flavour is. I've used them in stir fries with some lemon and herbs. It's like spinach but doesn't go as mushy when cooked.

There is also another amaranth plant in the garden with flowers of a lighter purple colour. I'm guessing this is a different cultivar. Would anyone know what this is called?

Well I hope you enjoyed this little blog. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the Amaranth plant (or any other plant in the garden).

Happy gardening!