Open the Advanced Search

Common Amaranth

Amaranthus retroflexus

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.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Amaranthaceae (Amaranth)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
1 metre tall
Fields, gardens, roadsides, wasteland.

Green, no petals
The inflorescence is a dense, tassel-like terminal spike. 5 sepals, no petals. Wind pollinated.
The fruit is a capsule, up to 2mm long. Black seeds. Seeds ripen from August to October.
A downy, greyish-green annual plant with pointed oval leaves. Short-stalked. Leaves measure up to 15cm (6 inches) long.
Other Names:
Common Tumbleweed, Pigweed, Pigweed Amaranth, Redroot Amaranth, Red-rooted Pigweed, Wild Beet.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Amaranthus retroflexus, also known as redroot pigweed or green amaranth, is an annual plant that is native to the Americas. It belongs to the amaranth family and is known for its small, green flowers and green or reddish leaves. Amaranthus retroflexus is a tall plant that can reach heights of up to 6 feet (2 meters) and is often used as a border plant or in naturalized areas. It is easy to grow and is tolerant of a wide range of soil types and climates. Amaranthus retroflexus prefers full sun and is drought-tolerant once established. The plant is generally hardy and low maintenance, but it can be prone to pests such as aphids and slugs. Amaranthus retroflexus is also known for its medicinal properties and has been used traditionally to treat a variety of ailments. However, more research is needed to fully understand its effects and to determine the safety and effectiveness of using it medicinally.


Common Amaranth, also known as redroot pigweed or Amaranthus retroflexus, is a versatile and hardy plant that is native to North America. It is a member of the Amaranthaceae family, which includes over 60 different species of Amaranth.

This plant is known for its deep red roots and green, leafy foliage. It can grow up to 6 feet tall and is often found in fields, gardens, and along roadsides.

One of the most notable characteristics of Common Amaranth is its ability to thrive in poor soil conditions and tolerate drought. This makes it a useful plant for farmers and gardeners in areas with limited water resources.

In addition to its hardiness, Common Amaranth is also highly nutritious. The leaves and seeds of the plant are rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals. The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked, and the seeds can be ground into flour or used as a cereal grain.

Common Amaranth has also been used for medicinal purposes for centuries. The plant has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including fever, sore throat, and digestive problems. It is believed to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Despite its many benefits, Common Amaranth can also be considered a weed. This is because it has a tendency to grow aggressively and take over gardens and fields. It is important to keep this in mind if you plan to cultivate the plant in your garden.

Another way to utilize Common Amaranth is by using it as a cover crop. Cover crops are plants that are grown to improve the soil health and to prevent erosion. Common Amaranth is often used as a cover crop because it is able to grow quickly and can outcompete weeds. In addition, it can add organic matter to the soil and help to fix nitrogen. This can be beneficial for farmers and gardeners who want to improve their soil quality without using synthetic fertilizers.

Common Amaranth is also a popular plant among foragers. The leaves and seeds of the plant are edible and are rich in nutrients. The leaves can be used in salads, soups, and stir-fries, while the seeds can be used to make flour or added to bread dough. The seeds can also be toasted and added to granola or other snacks for a nutritious crunch.

In some culture, Common Amaranth was used for ceremonial and religious purposes. The Aztecs, for example, believed that Amaranth was a sacred plant and used it in religious ceremonies. They also made a sweet, dough-like food from the seeds, which was believed to have spiritual significance.

Another important aspect of Common Amaranth is its potential as an alternative crop. With the increasing demand for sustainable and organic food, Common Amaranth has gained attention as an alternative crop that is easy to grow and highly nutritious. The plant can be grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides, and it is resistant to pests and diseases. This makes it an attractive option for farmers who are looking to reduce their environmental footprint.

In addition, Common Amaranth is a crop that can be grown in a variety of conditions. It can be grown in both tropical and temperate climates and can be planted in fields, gardens, or even in urban areas. This makes it a valuable crop for smallholder farmers, who often have limited land and resources.

The high protein content of Common Amaranth seeds makes it a valuable crop for food security. It is especially important for vegetarian and vegan people, as it is a good source of plant-based protein. This is particularly significant in regions where protein-rich foods are scarce or expensive.

In conclusion, Common Amaranth (Amaranthus retroflexus) is a hardy and versatile plant that has many uses. It is a valuable crop for farmers, gardeners, foragers and for people who want to improve their soil quality without using synthetic fertilizers. It is also a nutritious food source that has been used for medicinal, ceremonial, and alternative crop. If you are interested in growing or using Common Amaranth, be aware of its potential to take over your garden if left unmanaged.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map