Amaranthus cruentus, L.
USDA, NRCS. 2006. The PLANTS Database, 6 March 2006 (http://plants.usda.gov). Data compiled from various sources by Mark W. Skinner. National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.
Amaranthus cruentus is a common flowering plant species that yields the nutritious staple amaranth grain. It is one of three Amaranthus species cultivated as a grain source, the other two being A. hypochondriacus and A. caudatus. In Mexico it is called Huautli and Alegria and in English it has several common names, including purple amaranth, red amaranth, Prince's Feather and Mexican grain amaranth.
Amaranthus cruentus (Marathi:"राजगिरा" rajgira, "श्रावणी माठ" shravani maath) is a tall annual herb topped with clusters of dark pink flowers. The plant can grow up to 2 m (6 ft) in height, and blooms in summer to fall. It has now naturalized in most states. It is believed to have originated from Amaranthus hybridus, with which it shares many morphological features. This species was in use as a food source in Central America as early as 4000 BC. The plant is usually green in color, but a purple variant was once grown for use in Inca rituals.
In Maharashtra, it is called as "Shravani Maath" (literally माठ grown in month of Shravan).
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
It is an important crop for subsistence farmers in Africa.
1. ^ Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (2004) Plant Resources of Tropical Africa 2. Vegetables. PROTA Foundation, Wageningen; Backhuys, Leiden; CTA, Wageningen.
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