Wild Amaranth or Red Root Pigweed
Amaranth, or otherwise known as red root pig weed, is all over the place and is actually a very nutritious plant. You know them all to well if you are a gardener or crop farmer. As gardeners, we tend to fight the so called weeds in our gardens or crops. Even in our lawns, many spend a lot of time and or chemicals trying to do away with pig weed. Why not just eat it since its edible and nutritious?
What if it was sold in the grocery store like lettuce or spinach, or even as a grain or tea, would you feel the same about it? Would you allow them to grow where they are hardy and harvest their nutrition as a new but old food source?
Pig weed is an annual leafy green vegetable that many gardeners try to do away with. This wild edible can be a great companion plant serving as a detour or trap for leaf miners and other pests. The ground beetle is often found under pig weed which preys upon other garden pests. Some farmers grow it even today because of its nutritional value.
Pig weed is generally found in gardens, cultivated or abandoned fields.
The flowers are small, green and arranged into rough spikes at the top of the plant and in the leaf axles lower down the plant.
The seeds of wild amaranth/pig weed are extremely nutritious. I think they are best eaten roasted because I love the nutty flavor they bring when roasted. Better than adding even sunflower seeds to your salads! You can ground them to powder and use them as a cereal grain, or you can sprout them and eat the sprouts. I have also added them as a whole grain in breads, and cooked them like oatmeal. It’s like a super nutrition too many people disregard!
The leaves grow alternate on the stem. Leaves have long stalks, and range in color from green to reddish green. The single leaf or leaf blade is somewhat shaped like a diamond,with the wider area at the base. The leaves are smooth. The leaf tips have jagged edges like teeth, and the leaf flats are smooth.
The young leaves can be eaten raw in salads or on sandwiches. The flavor is mild, and I find it pairs well with stronger flavors. I often will search for wild leeks or garlic to add to salad or sandwiches along side my wild amaranth/pig weed. The older leaves are not as tender as the young leaves, and are usually boiled like any other greens such as collards or turnip greens. Again, this is mild in flavor and pairs well with more pungent flavors.
The leaves can also be made into tea, or act as a medicinal treatment.
I have yet to eat the roots, but talking to some fellow weed eaters, I hear they are edible just as other root veggies are prepared for consumption. I still need a bit of research on the roots before I attempt it myself.
*** Important NOTE:
A caution about wild edibles is that you really need to know your plants before guessing on the ones you can eat. Always talk to a doctor or professional before ingesting wild plants. Always get multiple opinions from experts in the field of wild foraging.
The author of this article is in no way responsible for any negative reactions or occurrences resulting from your use of wild plants. You are encouraged to do your own research and talk to medical professionals before using any wild plants.