By Manny C. Palada (with L.C. Chan)
A sample variety of the Vegetable Amaranth.
Vegetable amaranth (Amaranthus spp.) is widely grown in the tropics and is one of the most important leafy vegetables in the lowlands of Africa and Asia. Amaranth is an annual, fast growing plant, and is easily cultivated in gardens and fields. Amaranth is a rich source of calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C.
The following suggested cultural practices were developed at AVRDC in the Taiwan lowlands. Growers may need to modify the practices to suit local soil, weather, pest, and disease conditions. Climate and soil requirements Amaranth grows well in both hot humid and hot dry climates. The plant prefers temperatures between 25 and 30°C. Amaranth is photoperiod-sensitive and most species will flower when day lengths are shorter than 12 hours. Amaranth grows best in a loam or silty-loam soil with good water-holding capacity, but it can grow on a wide range of soil types and soil moisture levels.
Some species are tolerant to drought. Amaranth can tolerate a soil pH from 4.5 to 8.0. Choosing a variety of all the indigenous tropical leafy vegetables, amaranth has the largest number of species and varieties. The choice of variety varies widely among regions and is dictated largely by the species available. For example A tricolor is often grown in South and Southeast Asia, cruentus in Africa, and dubius in the Caribbean area. Other common species are viridis, hypochondriacus, and gangeticus.