Amaranth (Amaranthus species)
These plants, which grow 90 to 150 centimeters (35 to 60 inches) tall, are abundant weeds in many parts of the world. All amaranth have alternate simple leaves. They may have some red color present on the stems. They bear minute, greenish flowers in dense clusters at the top of the plants. Their seeds may be brown or black in weedy species and light-colored in domestic species.
Where to Find: Look for amaranth along roadsides, in disturbed waste areas, or as weeds in crops throughout the world. Some amaranth species have been grown as a grain crop and a garden vegetable in various parts of the world, especially in South America.
Edible Parts: All parts are edible, but some may have sharp spines you should remove before eating. The young plants or the growing tips of older plants are an excellent vegetable. Simply boil the young plants (preferred) or eat them raw. Some may contain higher than normal levels of nitrates depending on the level of nitrates in the soil, and should be boiled (but can be eaten raw if absolutely necessary). Their seeds are very nutritious. Shake the tops of older plants to get the seeds. Eat the seeds raw, boiled, ground into flour, or popped like popcorn.