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"Amarantus" redirects here. For the ancient Greek writer, see Amarantus of Alexandria. For other uses, see Amaranth (disambiguation).
Amaranthus
Amaranthus caudatus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Amaranthaceae
Subfamily: Amaranthoideae
Genus: Amaranthus
L.
Species

Amaranthus, collectively known as amaranth, is a cosmopolitan genus of herbs. Approximately 60 species are recognized, with inflorescences and foliage ranging from purple and red to gold. Members of this genus share many characteristics and uses with members of the closely related genus Celosia.

Although several species are often considered weeds, people around the world value amaranths as leaf vegetables, cereals, and ornamentals.

The word comes from the Greek amarantos (Αμάρανθος or Αμάραντος) the "one that does not wither," or the never-fading (flower).

Contents

Systematics

Amaranthus shows a wide variety of morphological diversity among and even within certain species. Although the family (Amaranthaceae) is distinctive, the genus has few distinguishing characters among the 70 species included.[1] This complicates taxonomy and Amaranthus has generally been considered among systematists as a “difficult” genus.[2]

Formerly, Sauer (1955) classified the genus into 2 sub-genera, differentiating only between monoecious and dioecious species: Acnida (L.) Aellen ex K.R. Robertson and Amaranthus.[2] Although this classification was widely accepted, further infrageneric classification was (and still is) needed to differentiate this widely diverse group.

Currently, Amaranthus includes 3 recognized sub-genera and 70 species, although species numbers are questionable due to hybridization and species concepts.[3] Infrageneric classification focuses on inflorescence, flower characters and whether a species is monoecious/dioecious, as in the Sauer (1955) suggested classification.[1] A modified infrageneric classification of Amaranthus was published by Mosyakin & Robertson (1996) and includes 3 subgenera: Acnida, Amaranthus and Albersia. The taxonomy is further differentiated by sections within each of the sub-genera.[4]

Uses

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Grain amaranth

A traditional food plant in Africa, this vegetable has potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable landcare.[5]

Several species are raised for amaranth grain in Asia and the Americas. Ancient amaranth grains still used to this day include the three species, Amaranthus caudatus, Amaranthus cruentus, and Amaranthus hypochondriacus.[6] Although amaranth was (and still is) cultivated on a small scale in parts of Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, India, and Nepal, there is potential for further cultivation in the U.S and tropical countries and it is often referred to as "the crop of the future."[7] It has been proposed as an inexpensive native crop that could be cultivated by indigenous people in rural areas for several reasons: 1) easily harvested, 2) produces a lot of fruits (and thus seeds) which are used as grain, 3) highly tolerant of arid environments which are typical of most subtropical and some tropical regions, and 4) large amounts of protein and essential amino acids, such as lysine.[8] Due to its weedy life history, amaranth grains grow very rapidly and their large seedheads can weigh up to 1 kilogram and contain a half-million seeds.[9] Amaranthus species are reported to have a 30% higher protein value than cereals, such as rice, wheat flour, oats, and rye.[10]

Amaranth grain is a crop of moderate importance in the Himalaya. It was one of the staple foodstuffs of the Incas, and it is known as kiwicha in the Andes today. It was also used by the ancient Aztecs, who called it huautli, and other Native America peoples in Mexico to prepare ritual drinks and foods. To this day, amaranth grains are toasted much like popcorn and mixed with honey, molasses or chocolate to make a treat called alegría (happiness in Spanish).

Amaranth was used in several Aztec ceremonies, where images of their gods (notably Huitzilopochtli) were made with amaranth mixed with honey. The images were cut to be eaten by the people. This looked like the Christian communion to the Roman Catholic priests, so the cultivation of the grain was forbidden for centuries.[citation needed]

Because of its importance as a symbol of indigenous culture, and because it is very palatable, easy to cook, and its protein particularly well suited to human nutritional needs, interest in grain amaranth (especially A. cruentus and A. hypochondriacus) was revived in the 1970s. It was recovered in Mexico from wild varieties and is now commercially cultivated. It is a popular snack sold in Mexico City and other parts of Mexico, sometimes mixed with chocolate or puffed rice, and its use has spread to Europe and parts of North America. Amaranth and quinoa are called pseudograins because of their flavor and cooking similarities to grains. These are dicot plant seeds, and both contain exceptionally complete protein for plant sources. Besides protein, amaranth grain provides a good source of dietary fiber and dietary minerals such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and especially manganese. People have also found it beneficial to prevent the premature greying of the hair folicles.[citation needed]

Vegetables

Amaranth species are cultivated and consumed as a leaf vegetable in many parts of the world. There are 4 species of Amaranthus documented as cultivated vegetables in eastern Asia: Amaranthus cruentus, Amaranthus blitum, Amaranthus dubius, and Amaranthus tricolor.[11]

In Indonesia and Malaysia, leaf amaranth is called bayam, while the Tagalogs in the Philippines call the plant kulitis. In Karnataka state in India it is used to prepare Hulli. Palya, Maggigayhulli and so on. In Tamilnadu State, it is regularly consumed as a favourite dish, where the greens are steamed, and mashed, with light seasoning of salt, red chillis and cumin. It is called keerai masial (கீரை மசியல்). In Andhra Pradesh, India, this leaf is added in preparation of a popular dal called thotakura pappu. In Maharashtra, it is called as "Shravani Maath" (literally माठ grown in month of Shravan) and it is available in both red and white colour.

In China, the leaves and stems are used as a stir-fry vegetable and called yin choi (苋菜; pinyin: xiàncài; and variations on this transliteration in various dialects). In Vietnam, it is called rau dền and is used to make soup. There are two species popular as edible vegetable in Vietnam: dền đỏ- amaranthus tricolor and dền cơm or dền trắng- amaranthus viridis.

In East Africa, Amaranth leaf is known in Chewa as Bonongwe, and in Swahili as mchicha. It is sometimes recommended by some doctors for people having low red blood cell count. Also known among the Kalenjin as a drought crop (chepkerta). In West Africa such as in Nigeria, it is a common vegetable, and goes with all Nigerian carbohydrate dishes. It is known in Yoruba as efo tete or arowo jeja ("we have money left over for fish"). In Congo it is known as lenga lenga or biteku teku.[12] In the Caribbean, the leaves are called callaloo and are sometimes used in a soup called pepperpot soup.

In Greece, Green Amaranth (Amaranthus viridis) is a popular dish and is called vleeta. It's boiled, then served with olive oil and lemon like a salad, usually alongside fried fish. Greeks stop harvesting the (usually wild-grown) plant when it starts to bloom at the end of August.

Dyes

The flowers of the 'Hopi Red Dye' amaranth were used by the Hopi Amerindians as the source of a deep red dye. There is also a synthetic dye that has been named "amaranth" for its similarity in color to the natural amaranth pigments known as betalains. This synthetic dye is also known as Red No. 2 in North America and E123 in the European Union.[13]

Ornamentals

The genus also contains several well-known ornamental plants, such as Amaranthus caudatus (love-lies-bleeding), a native of India and a vigorous, hardy annual with dark purplish flowers crowded in handsome drooping spikes. Another Indian annual, A. hypochondriacus (prince's feather), has deeply-veined lance-shaped leaves, purple on the under face, and deep crimson flowers densely packed on erect spikes.

Amaranths are recorded as food plants for some Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) species including the Nutmeg and various case-bearers of the genus Coleophora: C. amaranthella, C. enchorda (feeds exclusively on Amaranthus), C. immortalis (feeds exclusively on Amaranthus), C. lineapulvella and C. versurella (recorded on A. spinosus).

Nutritional value

Amaranth greens, also called Chinese spinach, hinn choy or yin tsoi (simplified Chinese: 苋菜traditional Chinese: 莧菜pinyin: xiàncài); callaloo, dhantinasoppu (Kannada); తోటకూర (Telugu); Rajgira (Marathi); முளைக் கீரை (Tamil), cheera ചീര (Malayalam); bayam (Indonesian); phak khom ผักโขม (Thai); tampala, or quelite, are a common leaf vegetable throughout the tropics and in many warm temperate regions. It is very popular in India. They are a very good source of vitamins including vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin B6, vitamin C, riboflavin, and folate, and dietary minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, and manganese. Because of its valuable nutrition, some farmers grow amaranth today. However their moderately high content of oxalic acid inhibits the absorption of calcium and zinc, and also means that they should be avoided or eaten in moderation by people with kidney disorders, gout, or rheumatoid arthritis.[citation needed] Reheating cooked amaranth greens is often discouraged, particularly for consumption by small children, as the nitrates in the leaves can be converted to nitrites, similarly to spinach.[citation needed]

Amaranth seeds, like buckwheat and quinoa, contain protein that is unusually complete for plant sources.[14] Most fruits and vegetables do not contain a complete set of amino acids, and thus different sources of protein must be used.

Its seeds have a protein content greater than that of wheat. However, unlike that found in true grains (i.e. from grass seeds) its protein is not of the problematical type known as gluten.[15]

Several studies have shown that like oats, amaranth seed or oil may be of benefit for those with hypertension and cardiovascular disease; regular consumption reduces blood pressure and cholesterol levels, while improving antioxidant status and some immune parameters.[16][17][18] While the active ingredient in oats appears to be water-soluble fiber, amaranth appears to lower cholesterol via its content of plant stanols and squalene.

As a weed

Not all amaranth plants are cultivated. Most of the species from Amaranthus are summer annual weeds and are commonly referred to as pigweeds.[19] These species have an extended period of germination, rapid growth, and high rates of seed production[19] and have been causing problems for farmers since the mid-1990s. This is partially due to the reduction in tillage, reduction in herbicidal use and the evolution of herbicidal resistance in several species where herbicides have been applied more often.[20] The following 9 species of Amaranthus are considered invasive and noxious weeds in the U.S and Canada: A. albus, A. blitoides, A. hybridus, A. palmeri, A. powellii, A. retroflexus, A. spinosus, A. tuberculatus, and A. viridis.[21]

A new strain of the Palmer amaranth has appeared which is Glyphosate-resistant and so cannot be killed by the widely used Roundup herbicide. Also, this plant can survive in tough conditions. This could be of particular concern to cotton farmers using Roundup Ready cotton.[22] The species Amaranthus palmeri (Palmer amaranth) causes the greatest reduction in soybean yields and has the potential to reduce yields by 17-68% in field experiments.[19] Palmer amaranth is among the “top five most troublesome weeds” in the southeast and has already evolved resistances to dinitroanilines and acetolactate synthase inhibitors.[23] This makes the proper identification of Amaranthus species at the seedling stage essential for agriculturalists. Proper herbicide treatment needs to be applied before the species successfully colonizes in the crop field and causes significant yield reductions.

Myth, legend and poetry

Amaranth, or Amarant (from the Greek amarantos, unwithering), a name chiefly used in poetry, and applied to Amaranth and other plants which, from not soon fading, typified immortality.

Aesop's Fables (6th century BC) compares the Rose to the Amaranth to illustrate the difference in fleeting and everlasting beauty.

A Rose and an Amaranth blossomed side by side in a garden,
and the Amaranth said to her neighbour,
"How I envy you your beauty and your sweet scent!
No wonder you are such a universal favourite."
But the Rose replied with a shade of sadness in her voice,
"Ah, my dear friend, I bloom but for a time:
my petals soon wither and fall, and then I die.
But your flowers never fade, even if they are cut;
for they are everlasting."

Or in story mode:

An amaranth planted in a garden near a Rose-Tree, thus addressed it: "What a lovely flower is the Rose, a favorite alike with Gods and with men. I envy you your beauty and your perfume." The Rose replied, "I indeed, dear Amaranth, flourish but for a brief season! If no cruel hand pluck me from my stem, yet I must perish by an early doom. But thou art immortal and dost never fade, but bloomest for ever in renewed youth."

Thus, in John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost (1667), iii. 353:

"Immortal amarant, a flower which once
In paradise, fast by the tree of life,
Began to bloom; but soon for man's offence
To heaven removed, where first it grew, there grows,
And flowers aloft, shading the fount of life,
And where the river of bliss through midst of heaven
Rolls o'er elysian flowers her amber stream:
With these that never fade the spirits elect
Bind their resplendent locks."

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in Work without Hope (1825), also refers to the herb, likely referencing Milton's earlier work. (ll 7-10 excerpted):

Yet well I ken the banks where Amaranths blow,
Have traced the fount whence streams of nectar flow.
Bloom, O ye Amaranths! bloom for whom ye may,
For me ye bloom not! Glide, rich streams, away!

Joachim du Bellay mentioned the herb in his "A Vow To Heavenly Venus," ca. 1500.

We that with like hearts love, we lovers twain,
New wedded in the village by thy fane,
Lady of all chaste love, to thee it is
We bring these amaranths, these white lilies,
A sign, and sacrifice; may Love, we pray,
Like amaranthine flowers, feel no decay;
Like these cool lilies may our loves remain,
Perfect and pure, and know not any stain;
And be our hearts, from this thy holy hour,
Bound each to each, like flower to wedded flower.

The original spelling is amarant; the more common spelling amaranth seems to have come from a folk etymology assuming that the final syllable derives from the Greek word anthos ("flower"), common in botanical names.

In ancient Greece, the amaranth (also called chrysanthemum and helichrysum) was sacred to Ephesian Artemis. It was supposed to have special healing properties, and as a symbol of immortality was used to decorate images of the gods and tombs. In legend, Amarynthus (a form of Amarantus) was a hunter of Artemis and king of Euboea; in a village of Amarynthus, of which he was the eponymous hero, there was a famous temple of Artemis Amarynthia or Amarysia (Strabo x. 448; Pausan. i. 31, p. 5). It was also widely used by the Chinese for its healing chemicals, curing illnesses such as infections, rashes, and migraines. The "Amarantos" is the name of a several-century-old popular Greek folk song:

Look at the amaranth:
on tall mountains it grows,
on the very stones and rocks
and places inaccessible.

Orson Scott Card's novel Speaker for the Dead features a plant called amaranth, genetically modified to survive on the planet Lusitania, where the majority of the story takes place.

In Vampire: The Masquerade lore, an amaranth placed on the bed of a vampire was the warning of Diablerie soon to come. The act of Diablerie was also referred to as "Amaranth".

Music

  • Enya refers to the everlasting amaranth in her song "Amarantine".
  • Finnish metal band Nightwish features a song called "Amaranth" on their 2007 album Dark Passion Play, referring to the hidden amaranth.
  • American metal band Virgin Steele has an instrumental song "Amaranth" on their 1998 album Invictus, referencing Greek mythology.
  • AFI's song "The Great Disappointment" from their 2003 album Sing The Sorrow references the mythical Amaranth.
  • Doom metal band Draconian also refers to the amaranth in their song "The Amaranth"
  • The Issacs have a song titled Is not this the Land of Beulah which says, They are blooming by the fountain, ’Neath the amaranthine bow’rs.
  • School of Seven Bells has a song entitled "Sempiternal/Amaranth" on their 2008 album Alpinisms.
  • Opeth mentions the Amaranth Symbol in the song Black Rose Immortal "I have kept it the Amaranth Symbol Hidden inside the golden shrine"
  • Bobo Dread Lutan Fyah sings about different vegetables and herbs and mentions "Callalloo for the blood" in the song "Natural Herbs" from the album "Healthy Lifestyle".
  • American experimental band Kayo Dot personify Amaranth as a character in the song "Amaranth the Peddler" on their 2006 album Dowsing Anemone with Copper Tongue. The song also references Greek deities Mnemosyne and Morpheus.

See also

Images

Notes

  1. ^ a b Juan et al. (2007). Electrophoretic characterization of Amaranthus L. seed proteins and its systematic implication. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 155: 57-63.
  2. ^ a b Costea, M & D. DeMason (2001). Stem morphology and anatomy in Amaranthus L. (Amaranthaceae)- Taxonomic significance. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society 128(3): 254-281.
  3. ^ Judd et al. (2008). Plant Systematics: A Phylogenetic Approach, Third Edition. Sinauer Associates, Inc. Sunderland, MA
  4. ^ Mosyakin & Robertson (1996). New infrageneric taxa and combinations in Amaranthus (Amaranthaceae). Ann. Bot. Fennici 33: 275-281.
  5. ^ "Amaranth". Lost Crops of Africa: Volume II: Vegetables. Lost Crops of Africa. 2. National Academies Press. 2006-10-27. ISBN 978-0-309-10333-6. OCLC 79635740 34344933 79635740. http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11763&page=35. Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  6. ^ Costea et al. (2006). Delimitation of Amaranthus cruentus L. and Amaranthus caudatus L. using micromorphology and AFLP analysis: an application in germplasm identification. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution 53: 1625-1633.
  7. ^ Marx (1977). Speaking of Science: Amaranth: A Comeback for the Food of the Aztecs? Science 198(4312): 40.
  8. ^ De Macvean & Pöll (1997). Chapter 8: Ethnobotany. Tropical Tree Seed Manual, USDA Forest Service, edt. J.A Vozzo.
  9. ^ Tucker, J. (1986). Amaranth: the once and future crop. Bioscience 36(1): 9-13.
  10. ^ De Macvean& Pöll. (1997). Chapter 8: Ethnobotany. Tropical Tree Seed Manual, USDA Forest Service, edt. J.A Vozzo.
  11. ^ Costea (2003). Notes on Economic Plants. Economic Botany 57(4): 646-649
  12. ^ Enama, M. (1994). "Culture: The missing nexus in ecological economics perspective". Ecological Economics 10 (10): 93–95. doi:10.1016/0921-8009(94)00010-7. 
  13. ^ "The following color additives are not authorized for use in food products in the United States: (1) Amaranth (C.I. 16185, EEC No. E123, formerly certifiable as FD&C red No. 2);" FDA/CFSAN Food Compliance Program: Domestic Food Safety Program
  14. ^ Reference Library | WholeHealthMD
  15. ^ 10 Reasons To Use Amaranth in Your Gluten-Free Recipes, by Teri Gruss, URL accessed Oct 2009.
  16. ^ Czerwiński J, Bartnikowska E, Leontowicz H, et al. (Oct 2004). "Oat (Avena sativa L.) and amaranth (Amaranthus hypochondriacus) meals positively affect plasma lipid profile in rats fed cholesterol-containing diets". J. Nutr. Biochem. 15 (10): 622–9. doi:10.1016/j.jnutbio.2004.06.002. PMID 15542354. 
  17. ^ Gonor KV, Pogozheva AV, Derbeneva SA, Mal'tsev GIu, Trushina EN, Mustafina OK (2006). "[The influence of a diet with including amaranth oil on antioxidant and immune status in patients with ischemic heart disease and hyperlipoproteidemia]" (in Russian). Vopr Pitan 75 (6): 30–3. PMID 17313043. 
  18. ^ Martirosyan DM, Miroshnichenko LA, Kulakova SN, Pogojeva AV, Zoloedov VI (2007). "Amaranth oil application for coronary heart disease and hypertension". Lipids Health Dis 6: 1. doi:10.1186/1476-511X-6-1. PMID 17207282. 
  19. ^ a b c Bensch et al. (2003). Interference of redroot pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus), Palmer amaranth (A. palmeri), and common waterhemp (A. rudis) in soybean. Weed Science 51: 37-43.
  20. ^ Wetzel et al. (1999). Use of PCR-based molecular markers to identify weedy Amaranthus species. Weed Science 47: 518-523.
  21. ^ USDA Plant Database. Plants Profile- Amaranthus L
  22. ^ Herbicide Resistant Weeds Causing Problems for US Cotton Growers
  23. ^ Culpepper et al. (2006). Glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth (Amaranthus palmeri) confirmed in Georgia. Weed Science 54: 620-626.

Sources

  • Lenz, Botanik der alt. Greich. und Rom. Botany of old. (1859)
  • J. Murr, Die Pflanzenwelt in der griech. Mythol. Plants in Greek Mythology. (1890)

External links

Information

Images


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

AMARANTH, or Amarant (from the Gr. a uipavros, unwithering), a name chiefly used in poetry, and applied to certain plants which, from not soon fading, typified immortality.

Thus Milton (Paradise Lost, iii. 353) "Immortal amarant, a flower which once In paradise, fast by the tree of life, Began to bloom; but soon for man's offence To heaven removed, where first it grew, there grows, And flowers aloft, shading the fount of life, And where the river of bliss through midst of heaven Rolls o'er elysian flowers her amber stream: With these that never fade the spirits elect Bind their resplendent locks." It should be noted that the proper spelling of the word is amarant; the more common spelling seems to have come from a hazy notion that the final syllable is the Greek word civOos, " flower," which enters into a vast number of botanical names. The plant genus Amarantus (natural order Amarantaceae) contains several well-known garden plants, such as love-liesbleeding (A. caudatus), a native of India, a vigorous hardy annual, with dark purplish flowers crowded in handsome drooping spikes. Another species A. hypochondriacus, is prince's feather, another Indian annual, with deeply-veined lanceshaped leaves, purple on the under face, and deep crimson flowers densely packed on erect spikes. "Globe amaranth" belongs to an allied genus, Gomphrena, and is also a native of India. It is an annual about 18 in. high, with solitary round heads of flowers; the heads are violet from the colour of the bracts which surround the small flowers.

In ancient Greece the amaranth (also called xpvaavOquov and EXixpvvos) was sacred to Ephesian Artemis. It was supposed to have special healing properties, and as a symbol of immortality was used to decorate images of the gods and tombs. In legend, Amarynthus (a form of Amarantus) was a hunter of Artemis and king of Euboea; in a village of Amarynthus, of which he was the eponymous hero, there was a famous temple of Artemis Amarynthia or Amarysia (Strabo x. 448; Pausan.

i. 3 1, P� 5).

See Lenz, Botanik der alt. Griech. and Rom. (1859); J. Murr, Die Pflanzenwelt in der griech. Mythol. (1890).


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Simple English

Amaranthus
File:Amaranthus
Amaranthus caudatus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Amaranthaceae
Subfamily: Amaranthoideae
Genus: Amaranthus
L.

Amaranth (Amaranthus spp.) is a cosmopolitan genus of herbs. Approximately 60 species are recognized, with inflorescences and foliage ranging from purple and red to gold.

Although several species are often considered weeds, people around the world value amaranths as leaf vegetables, cereals, and ornamentals.


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