Latin Name: Amaranthus viridis, A. retroflexus
Description: An erect smooth branched herb without thorns. It is 30 to 60 cm high and grows from seeds each year. The stems are slender. The leaves are broad near their base and narrow near the top. Usually the leaves have notches. Leaves are 1-3 cm long with exceptionally long petioles. The flowers occur in the angles of the leaves and the seeds are small and brown or black. The spikes are not bristly.
Notes: Amaranthus viridis is used as a medicinal herb in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, under the Sanskrit name Tanduliya.
Edible Uses: Leaves – cooked as a spinach. The leafy stems and flower clusters are similarly used. On a zero moisture basis, 100g of leaves contains 283 calories, 34.2g protein, 5.3g fat, 44.1g carbohydrate, 6.6g fibre, 16.4g ash, 2243mg calcium, 500mg phosphorus, 27mg iron, 336mg sodium, 2910mg potassium, 50mg vitamin A, 0.07mg thiamine, 2.43mg riboflavin, 11.8mg niacin and 790mg ascorbic acid. Seed – cooked. Very small, about 1mm in diameter, but it is easy to harvest and very nutritious. The seed can be cooked whole, and becomes very gelatinous like this, but it is rather difficult to crush all of the small seeds in the mouth and thus some of the seed will pass right through the digestive system without being assimilated. The seed contains 14 – 16% protein and 4.7 – 7% fat. Amaranthus viridis is eaten traditionally as a vegetable in South India, especially in Kerala, where it is known as “Kuppacheera” കുപ്പച്ചീര. In Greece it is called vlita (βλήτα) and is one of the varieties of “horta” or greens known in Greek cuisine which are boiled and served with olive oil and lemon. It is also eaten as a vegetable in parts of Africa. In Jamaica it is eaten as a vegetable and is known locally as callaloo (not to be confused with callaloo of most other countries). The leaves of this plant, known as massaagu in Dhivehi, have been used in the diet of the Maldives for centuries in dishes such as mas huni.
Medicinal Uses: Astringent; Vermifuge.
Medicinal Information: A decoction of the entire plant is used to stop dysentery and inflammation. The plant is emollient and vermifuge. The root juice is used to treat inflammation during urination. It is also taken to treat constipation.
Other Uses: Yellow and green dyes can be obtained from the whole plant.