Name: Redroot Pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus)
Other names: red-root amaranth, redroot pigweed, red-rooted pigweed, common amaranth, pigweed amaranth, and common tumbleweed.
Higher classification: Amaranth
Conservation Status: Secure (G5)
Description: Amaranthus retroflexus, true to one of its common names, forms a tumbleweed. This is an erect, annual herb reaching a maximum height near 3 m (9.8 ft). The leaves are nearly 15 cm (5.9 in) long on large individuals, the ones higher on the stem having a lance shape and those lower on the plant diamond or oval in shape. The plant is monoecious, with individuals bearing both male and female flowers. The inflorescence is a large, dense cluster of flowers interspersed with spiny green bracts. The fruit is a capsule less than 2 mm (0.079 in) long with a "lid" which opens to reveal a tiny black seed.
Distribution: It is native to the tropical Americas, but is widespread as an introduced species on most continents in a great number of habitats.
Use: This plant is eaten as a vegetable in different places of the world. No species of genus Amaranthus is known to be poisonous, but the leaves contain oxalic acid and may contain nitrates if grown in nitrate-rich soils, so the water should be discarded after boiling.
Fun fact: Redroot pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus), the most widespread of the species, is also known as rough pigweed or green amaranth.
Dymadex's entries on plants, living organism of the kind exemplified by trees, shrubs, herbs, grasses, ferns, and mosses.
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