Amaranthus, more commonly known as Love Lies Bleeding, Tassel Flower, Velvet Flower or Joseph’s Coat, is from the family of Amaranthaceae; also commonly known as the pigweed family, especially in the Americas and Africa. The genus Amaranthus includes several widely distributed species called Amaranths that are characterized by a lasting red or green pigment in the stems and leaves.
They have been a poetic symbol of immortality from the time of ancient Greece. It was used to decorate tombs and images of Gods, the Greeks considered it to be a very sacred plant.
The seeds are eaten as a cereal grain, the flowers & leaves are also edible. Seeds are black in the wild plant, and white in the domesticated plant. The seeds have been used as a food source from the time of the ancient Greeks to today. They can be ground into flour, popped like popcorn or cooked into a porridge. In Mexico they are toasted and mixed with honey or molasses to make a confectionery called alegría. The leaves can be cooked like spinach, and the seeds can be germinated into nutritious sprouts.
Amaranthus can grow from 3 to 8 feet in height, and grows best in full sun. It can handle a variety of conditions, both humid and arid. It is an important crop for subsistence farmers in Africa. It’s interesting to note that the seeds are highly edible by gluten intolerant individuals because they are not a member of the grass family and contain no gluten.
As a cut flower they definitely add some pizazz to an arrangement! Amaranthus is offered in both upright and hanging forms, available in green, red, purple and bronze. The inflorescence on hanging Amaranthus sweeps downward. The soft velvety foxtail like flowers of hanging Amaranthus can measure up to 30cm long. Upright Amaranthus has ridged flowers that remain upright.