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White Pigweed

Amaranthus albus

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Amaranthaceae (Amaranth)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
50 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, wasteland.

Green, no petals
Flowers appear in clusters and are petalless. 3 sepals. Wind pollinated.
The fruit is a dry seed. The seeds ripen in September and October.
An annual flower, in leaf from May to October. The oval, pale green leaves are wavy-edged and minutely pointed. Clump-forming.
Other Names:
Common Tumbleweed, Pigweed Amaranth, Prostrate Pigweed, Tumble Pigweed, Tumbleweed, White Amaranth.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Amaranthus albus, commonly known as prostrate pigweed, is a species of annual herb in the Amaranthaceae family. It is native to tropical regions of the Americas and is considered a weed in many parts of the world. The plant has broad, green leaves and small, greenish-white flowers that grow in clusters. It typically grows as a low-lying groundcover and is often found in disturbed areas such as gardens, agricultural fields, and waste ground. The leaves and seeds of the plant are edible, and the plant is sometimes used in traditional medicine to treat various ailments, but there is limited scientific evidence to support these uses.


White Pigweed, scientifically known as Amaranthus albus, is an annual herbaceous plant that belongs to the family Amaranthaceae. It is a native of North America and is also found in other parts of the world, including Asia, Europe, and Africa. White Pigweed is a common weed that is known for its rapid growth and ability to thrive in a variety of soil types and environmental conditions.

Description and Characteristics

White Pigweed grows up to 2 meters in height and has a thick, erect stem that is often reddish in color. The leaves of the plant are alternate, ovate, and green in color, with serrated margins. The flowers of the plant are small and inconspicuous, and are borne in dense clusters at the tips of the stem and branches. The fruit of the plant is a small, spherical capsule that contains numerous small, black seeds.

Habitat and Distribution

White Pigweed is a highly adaptable plant that can grow in a variety of soil types, including sandy, loamy, and clay soils. It is commonly found in disturbed areas such as fields, pastures, roadsides, and waste places. White Pigweed is also found in natural habitats such as prairies, meadows, and open woods.

White Pigweed is native to North America but has been introduced to other parts of the world, including Asia, Europe, and Africa. It is considered a noxious weed in many countries, including Australia, where it is listed as a Weed of National Significance.


White Pigweed has been used for a variety of purposes throughout history. Native Americans used the plant for medicinal purposes, including the treatment of wounds, fever, and diarrhea. The seeds of the plant were also used as a source of food, and were ground into flour and used to make bread and other baked goods.

In modern times, White Pigweed is primarily considered a weed and is often targeted for eradication. However, some people still use the plant for food and medicinal purposes. The leaves of the plant can be cooked and eaten like spinach, and the seeds can be roasted and ground into a nutritious flour.

Ecological Impacts

White Pigweed can have significant ecological impacts, particularly in agricultural settings. The plant can quickly colonize disturbed areas and can compete with crops for resources such as water, nutrients, and sunlight. White Pigweed can also serve as a host for a variety of plant diseases and pests, which can then spread to nearby crops.

In natural habitats, White Pigweed can also have negative impacts. The plant can displace native plant species, reducing biodiversity and altering ecosystems. Additionally, the plant can serve as a host for invasive insects and diseases, which can then spread to other plants in the area.

Management and Control

Due to its ability to rapidly colonize disturbed areas and compete with crops, White Pigweed is often targeted for eradication. Management and control strategies for the plant include cultural, mechanical, and chemical methods.

Cultural methods include practices such as crop rotation and planting cover crops, which can help to prevent the establishment of White Pigweed in agricultural fields. Mechanical methods include hand-pulling and mowing, which can help to control the spread of the plant. Chemical methods include the use of herbicides, which can be effective in controlling large infestations of the plant.

More Information

White Pigweed is a highly adaptable plant that has a high tolerance to drought and can survive in low fertility soils. It is also a prolific seed producer, with each plant capable of producing up to 200,000 seeds in a single growing season. This allows the plant to quickly colonize disturbed areas and establish dense populations.

In addition to its negative impacts on agriculture and natural ecosystems, White Pigweed can also cause health problems for humans and animals. The plant produces pollen that can trigger allergic reactions in some people, and the leaves and stems of the plant contain compounds that can be toxic to livestock.

Effective management and control of White Pigweed requires a combination of strategies that target both the above-ground and below-ground parts of the plant. This may include the use of herbicides that target the plant's roots, as well as cultural practices that reduce the disturbance of soil and promote the growth of competitive crops or cover crops.

Another management strategy for White Pigweed is biological control, which involves the use of natural enemies to reduce the population of the plant. One example of a biological control agent for White Pigweed is a tiny beetle called Zygogramma bicolorata, which feeds on the leaves of the plant and can significantly reduce its growth and seed production.

It is also important to prevent the spread of White Pigweed to new areas, as the plant can easily be transported through the movement of contaminated soil or equipment. This can be achieved through practices such as cleaning equipment before moving it between fields, using certified seed, and avoiding the movement of contaminated soil.

In some cases, White Pigweed may be allowed to grow and used as a cover crop or green manure in agricultural fields. This can help to improve soil health and fertility, as well as reduce the establishment of other weeds. However, careful management is necessary to prevent the plant from becoming a pest and spreading to nearby areas.

White Pigweed is a highly adaptable plant that poses significant challenges for land managers and farmers. Effective management and control strategies require a combination of cultural, mechanical, chemical, and biological methods, as well as efforts to prevent the spread of the plant to new areas. With the right strategies in place, it is possible to effectively control the growth and spread of White Pigweed and prevent further ecological and agricultural damage.

White Pigweed is also known to have some medicinal properties. The plant has been used in traditional medicine to treat a range of conditions, including fever, diarrhea, and hemorrhage. Some studies have also suggested that extracts from the plant may have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.

In addition to its medicinal uses, White Pigweed is also an important source of food for people and livestock in some parts of the world. The young leaves and stems of the plant can be cooked and eaten as a vegetable, and the seeds can be ground into a nutritious flour.

However, it is important to note that while White Pigweed may have some benefits, its negative impacts on agriculture and natural ecosystems generally outweigh these benefits. Therefore, efforts to manage and control the plant should prioritize its removal from agricultural and natural areas where it is causing harm.

Overall, White Pigweed is a complex and multifaceted plant that requires careful management and control. While it may have some benefits, its negative impacts on agriculture, natural ecosystems, and human and animal health cannot be ignored. By taking a comprehensive and integrated approach to management and control, we can minimize the harm caused by this invasive weed and protect our agricultural and natural resources for future generations.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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