Red Amaranth
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Red Amaranth
aturalized Photo: Dinesh Valke
Common name: Red Amaranth, African-spinach, blood amaranth, bush greens, caterpillar amaranth, grain amaranth, purple amaranth • Hindi: चौलाई chaulai, लाल साग lal sag, रामदाना ramdana • Kannada: ರಾಜಗಿರಿ rajgiri • Kashmiri: बुस्तान अफ्रोज़ bustan afroz, मवल् mawal • Konkani: राजगिरि rajgiri • Marathi: राजगिरा rajgira, श्रावणी माठ shravani maath • Punjabi: ਤਜ ਖੁਰੁਸ taj khurus • Sanskrit: राजगिरि rajagiri • Tamil: பூங்கீரை pu-n-kirai • Urdu: گل کيش gul-kesh
Botanical name: Amaranthus cruentus    Family: Amaranthaceae (Amaranth family)
Synonyms: Amaranthus hybridus subsp. cruentus

Red Amaranth is a tall annual herb topped with clusters of dark pink flowers. The plant can grow up to 6 ft tall in height, and blooms in summer to fall. Stems are erect, green or reddish purple, branched distally, mostly in inflorescence, to nearly simple. Leaves are carried on stalks half as long as, or equaling the blade. Blade is rhombic-ovate or ovate to broadly lanceshaped, 3-15 × 1.5-10 cm, occasionally larger in robust plants, margins entire. Inflorescences arise at the end of branches and in leaf axils, erect, reflexed, or nodding, usually dark red, purple, or deep beet-red, less commonly almost green or greenish red, leafless at least distally , large and robust. This species was in use as a food source in Central America as early as 4000 BC. The seeds are eaten as a cereal grain. They are black in the wild plant, and white in the domesticated form. They are ground into flour, popped like popcorn, cooked into a porridge, and made into a confectionery called alegría. The leaves can be cooked like spinach, and the seeds can be germinated into nutritious sprouts. While A. cruentus is no longer a staple food, it is still grown and sold as a health food. In Maharashtra, during month of Shravan, a stir fried vegetable with just grated coconut is served during festivals. The stem is used in curry made up of Vaal Hyacinth bean.

Identification credit: Satish Pardeshi, Leo Breman
Photographed at Rajguru Nagar, Pune.
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