Albersia caudata (Jacq.) Boiss.
Albersia gracilis Webb & Berthel.
Amaranthus acutilobus Uline & W.L.Bray
Amaranthus fasciatus Roxb.
Amaranthus gracilis Desf.
Amaranthus littoralis Bernh. ex Moq.
Amaranthus polystachyus Buch.-Ham. ex Wall.
Chenopodium caudatum Jacq.
Galliaria adscendens Bubani
Glomeraria viridis (L.) Cav.
Lagrezia suessenguthii Cavaco
Pyxidium viride (L.) Moq.
Common Name: Calalu
Growing as a weed in grass
Photograph by: Harry Rose
Amaranthus viridis is a vigorous, erect, branched, annual plant growing 10 - 100cm tall. Occasionally the plant may become a short-lived perennial[
The plant is often harvested from the wild as a source of food and medicines for local use. It is sometimes cultivated in the Tropics for its edible leaves.
A prolific producer of seeds, the plant has often escaped from cultivation outside its native range and become a weed of disturbed and cultivated soils[
No members of this genus are known to be poisonous, but when grown on nitrogen-rich soils they are known to concentrate nitrates in the leaves. This is especially noticeable on land where chemical fertilizers are used. Nitrates are implicated in stomach cancers, blue babies and some other health problems. It is inadvisable, therefore, to eat this plant if it is grown inorganically.
Tropical N. America? The original habitat is obscure, but the plant is now a cosmopolitan weed from the tropical to the warm temperate zones.
A weed of waste ground and roadsides but the original habitat is obscure[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Wild
Originally from the American tropics, the plant can be cultivated in a wide range of zones from the temperate through to many parts of the tropics.
Prefers a well-drained fertile soil in a sunny position[
]. Requires a hot sheltered position if it is to do well[
Plants are particularly susceptible to attacks by leaf-chewing insects[
Plants should not be given inorganic fertilizers, see notes above on toxicity.
Cultivated as a food plant in the tropics[
Most if not all members of this genus photosynthesize by a more efficient method than most plants. Called the 'C4 carbon-fixation pathway', this process is particularly efficient at high temperatures, in bright sunlight and under dry conditions[
Leaves - cooked as a spinach[
]. A mild flavour[
]. The leafy stems and flower clusters are similarly used[
]. On a zero moisture basis, 100g of leaves contains 283 calories, 34.2g protein, 5.3g fat, 44.1g carbohydrate, 6.6g fibre, 16.4g ash, 2243mg calcium, 500mg phosphorus, 27mg iron, 336mg sodium, 2910mg potassium, 50mg vitamin A, 0.07mg thiamine, 2.43mg riboflavin, 11.8mg niacin and 790mg ascorbic acid[
Seed - cooked. Very small, about 1mm in diameter[
], but it is easy to harvest and very nutritious[
]. The seed can be cooked whole, and becomes very gelatinous like this, but it is rather difficult to crush all of the small seeds in the mouth and thus some of the seed will pass right through the digestive system without being assimilated[
]. The seed contains 14 - 16% protein and 4.7 - 7% fat[
The plant is emollient and vermifuge[
]. A decoction of the entire plant is used to stop dysentery and inflammations, and also to purify the blood[
The root juice is used to treat inflammation during urination[
]. It is also taken to treat constipation[
]. The pounded root is applied against dysentery[
The leaves are diuretic, febrifuge and purgative[
]. The leaf sap is said to act as a vermifuge, being effective against filaria, as an emmenagogue and to relieve heart troubles[
The leaves are used in poultices (fresh or as dried powder) to treat inflammations, boils and abscesses, gonorrhoea, orchitis and haemorrhoids[
]. The leaf sap is used as an eye wash to treat eye infections[
Yellow and green dyes can be obtained from the whole plant[
The ash of the plants is rich in potash and is occasionally used to make soap[
Seed - sow late spring in situ. An earlier sowing can be made in a greenhouse and the plants put out after the last expected frosts. Germination is usually rapid and good if the soil is warm[
], but poor germination rates are experienced in cool or cold soils[
]. A drop in temperature overnight aids germination[
Cuttings of growing plants root easily[