How to Use This Website

There are three ways to find a plant on this blog.
1. By common name as listed in the sidebar to the left.

2. On the right sidebar you can look for the plant based on the environment it grows, season, plant type, flower color, fruit or seedpod color, use, and Geographic Location in North America. Note in that last one plants tagged "All USA" won't show up under the individual USA regions.

3. The blog search box at the top of the page can be used to search for key words such as scientific names.

Foods edible raw have been marked with the Raw label to make them easier to focus on by raw foodists. Please read the plant details to identify which parts of the plant can safely be eaten raw and thoroughly wash any plants, especially if collected from ponds, streams, marshes, or swamps.

As to where to start when trying to identify a mystery plant, please check out Identifying Unknown Plants & Mushrooms. This will lead you to a number of great resources that I use when trying to identify a new plant.

Finally, please read and take to heart the Foraging Ethics. This is to insure that the joy of wild foods remains available to all.

Foraging Ethics

1. Respect the law. You must have permission from the property owner to collect plant matter. To forage without permission is considered stealing and you can be arrested. Most state and federal land prohibit gathering plants except in survival situations.

2. Respect the land. Leave no trace. Fill your holes, pack out your garbage (and garbage left by others), don't hack/slash/smash/burn your way through nature. Don't harvest a plant if there are just a few around.

3. Respect the plant. Please harvest sustainably so that there will be plenty of plants year after year. I've coded each plant with an Abundance tag which are defined as follows:
Plentiful - harvest up to 50% of this plant from the location
Common - harvest up to 30% of this plant from the location
Uncommon - harvest up to 10% of this plant from the location
Rare - harvest only in an emergency or one small bit to taste
Very Rare - harvest only in a dire emergency

Also, don't strip all the leaves from one plant, just take 1 shoot or 2-3 leaves from many plants. Minimize damage to the plants by cutting leaves off the plant with a sharp knife or shears rather than tearing them off. Harvest inner bark using long, thin vertical strips on one side of the tree, do not cut a ring all around the tree which will kill it. Sterilize your cutting tools with alcohol or bleach to prevent transfer of diseases.

4. Respect yourself. Please positively identify any plant before eating it. Eating the wrong plant can lead to illness or in rare circumstances, even death. Also be aware of any environmental hazards in your foraging location such as snakes, bears, or chemical hazards from old oil fields, roadways, lead paint around old buildings or areas subject to flooding from sewers.

Benefits of Foraging

Solvitur ambulando, St. Jerome was fond of saying. "To solve a problem, walk around."
~Gregory McNamee


I forage, which means I walk. It means I bend, stretch, and dig. It means I constantly have access fresh, vitamin packed foods that cost no money. It means I bond with my family, friends, neighbors and complete strangers. This bonding expands past my community and into the heart of nature, whose rhythms I must follow to find the foods I seek.

Foraging requires walking. Often lots of walking, usually while carrying stuff. It also requires bending (usually lots of bending!) digging stuff, climbing stuff, shaking stuff, and occasionally running from stuff. In Texas summers, foraging means carrying lots of heavy water with me as I hunt the wild edibles. The physical labor of foraging greatly surpasses that of pushing a shopping cart down a grocery store aisle! Because of this and also due to the nature of plants themselves, I often burn more calories than I gather when foraging...which isn't a bad thing.

The domestication of plants changed them at a genetic level. They have been bred to remain fresh-looking, resistant to shipping damage, and have a mild flavor, as well as be convenient to harvest and store. In return, these well-trained plants gave up much of their best nutritional compounds. Meanwhile, wild plants have to fight every minute of every day to stay alive. To help them in these battles they load themselves up with a huge selection of chemical warfare agents...agents that we refer to as vitamins, minerals, flavanoids, lycopenes, anti-oxidants and many other beneficial compounds. As I usually harvest and eat the plants within a few hours, they are much, much fresher than any store-bought and even farmer's market-bought foods.

Foragers are the only ones who truly can get a free lunch. My backyard, with nothing more than removing the grass beneath a few pruned branches on which birds perch, has brought forth amaranth, lamb's quarter, dollarweed, chickweed, dandelions, cat's ear, purslane, sow thistle, dwarf palmetto, scarlet pimpernel, pony's foot, and many other edible "weeds". I bought no seed. No water, fertilizer, or pesticides are needed. These plants thrive on neglect, as any gardener could tell you. And at mealtime they are ready and waiting for me and my family. Is there any better food security than this?

But my yard is not big enough to supply all my family's needs. Every evening my two daughters and I walk around the neighborhood and we see lots of wild edibles. Texas law forbids harvesting any plant material from property you do not own without the owner's permission. To be a ethical forager here in Texas means you need to talk to people. It's easy to talk to other family members or friends to ask if you can harvest the spiderwort in their flower beds. It takes much more effort (and charm!) to knock on a stranger's door to ask if you and your children may have the white clover heads from their yard. Over time, we've talked with just about everyone in the surrounding five blocks and while some think I'm crazy, most welcome me and the knowledge I bring. Inadvertently through constant talking with everyone, I became the neighborhood "connector". When Rick needed to a particular tool I knew Bob had, I got the two of them together. When a new family on the block had to leave town for an unexpected emergency, I hooked them up with a trustworthy pet sitter. By the time hurricane Ike hit our neighborhood, most people already knew each other and happily worked together to clean up the wreckage.

Gardeners often talk about their joy of bonding with "nature" but I just smile at that statement. To me, gardeners seem more often at war with nature than bonding with Her. They plant plants that couldn't possibly survive in the wild. They tear up the plants nature gives them. They spread both poisons and fertilizers. They rely on a faucet rather than rain. The main contacts they have with nature is sunburn and mosquito bites.

Without looking at an iPhone app can you tell me what phase the moon will be tonight? With foraging, as the seasons pass new plants become available on nature's schedule, not mine. I needed to learn nature's cycles to find the plants I wanted. But not just the seasonal cycles, but also the relationships between nature and Her plant gifts. Sun, shade, woods, fields, river banks, sandy soil, clay soils...all these influenced what plants would grow in a particular location. As I wrapped myself deeper in this web I saw more and more relationships...for instance, up in the Sam Houston National Forest I discovered that wherever there was sassafras one would also find bull nettle. No plant book has ever mentioned these two plants grow together, yet they do.

And deeper still. The secret to learning edible wild plants is to first identify the plant then search the literature to see if it is edible. In the way you eventually learn most of the plants in your environment, edible or not. As you are out looking at plants you will also find bugs, tracks, and scat. Natural curiosity will drive you to identify these discoveries. Being outside as much as foragers are leads to a heightened weather-sense over time, too. Clouds, wind, and the actions of some insects, animals and plants can all be used to tell what sort of weather is close at hand.

As a forager, eventually you stop getting your entertainment from tv but rather from the sky, the ground, and the people around you. Your physical health improves due to getting exercise and better nutrition. Your mental health improves because you are surrounded by friends, laughter, and have a sense of belonging. Your finances improve because your foods are free, your health

Foraging for Calories

Let's talk about finding calories in the woods for a bit. Most vitamins and minerals are easy to come by from edible wild plants but calories are a lot more difficult. There's a basic rule of thumb which states that while at rest your body will consume calories equal to ten times your body weight. If you are working hard this can jump up to twenty times your weight (find your calorie requirements here).

I'm 6'5" and 230 pounds (yeah, 25lbs overweight). To meet my energy needs to make it through a hard day backpacking I'll need 20 x 200 = 4,000 calories. Food-wise how much is this?

Snickers Bar...........136 calories per oz
Peanut butter..........168 calories per oz
Whole wheat flour......97 calories per oz
Baked potato (plain)...26 calories per oz

A regular Snickers Bar is 2oz, so I'd need to eat FOURTEEN of them to fuel myself. I kind of like the sound of that, though the resulting dentistry bills would suck. What if I eat something healthier like potatoes? A large, plain baked potato weighs about 10oz, so I'd need to eat FIFTEEN of them.

I don't want to carry fifteen potatoes per day when I'm out in the woods.

So, what about wild edibles?

Acorns................112 calories per oz
Pecans................197 calories per oz
Apple..................15 calories per oz
Cattail tuber..........19 calories per oz
Blackberries...........12 calories per oz

Nuts are definitely the main source of non-animal-based calories in the wild. I would need to eat 35oz (2.2 lbs) of acorn nut meat, which means collecting somewhat more than that weight of acorns as I need to shell, crush, then extract the tannin from them before eating. Pecans do much better, I'd only need to eat 20oz of shelled pecan nut meat.

But nuts are only available for a short time. What about berries or some sort of tuber? Unfortunately, these have approximately 1/5 the calories of nuts. One of most common sources of calories in the woods are greenbrier roots. They have slightly fewer calories than potatoes so I'm going to have to dig up around ten pounds of them which is time consuming and hard. Plus they don't taste very good. Cattail tubers are easier to dig but give even less calories than greenbrier. Berries give still fewer calories, I'd need to find twenty pounds of them to meet my energy needs.

Most of us have some built-in fat reserves to get us through short periods of famine. However it does not take long for irritability, confusion, and weakness to set in when the body is deprived of its necessary calories. For more information on the effects of starvation I recommend reading They Starved So That Others Be Better Fed: Remembering Ancel Keys and the Minnesota Experiment

Recommended Plant Books

My book (70 plants, 30 recipes, tons of big pictures)!


Charles W.Kane's guide to Texas edible plants.


The classic Peterson's guide to wild edibles.


Identifying the plants of Texas.


Charles W. Kane's herbal medicine books which are AWESOME!


Texas herbalist Sam Coffman (he's amazing!) helped with this medicinal plant guide:


The best guide to mushrooms!


The best food and drink recipes for your foraged foods.

Acorn

Scientific Name: Quercus spp.
Abundance: common
What: nuts
How: leach out tannins with lots of water then grind to flour, roast nuts then grind for coffee
Where: oaks (white, red, live, burr, post, pin, etc)
When: fall
Nutritional Value: protein, minerals, fats and carbohydrates
Other uses: tanning leather
Dangers: very bitter if not tannic acid isn't leached

acorns.jpg

Burr oak acorns are the biggest at over 1" across.
BurrOackAcorn

Acorns.jpg

Assorted oak leaves.
OakLeaves

Acorn Oak Leaves IGFB4

Burr oak leaf.
BurrOakLeaf

An oak gall, created by chemical warfare between a type of wasp and the oak tree.
Oak Gall

Stately oak trees can grow over 100’ tall and hundreds of feet in diameter under ideal conditions. Their bark ranges from smooth to deeply fissured. Branches tend to give oak trees a round or oblong shape. They usually prefer full sun and loose, well drain soils but with fifteen different species to choose from in Texas along, there’s a good chance you’ll find an oak somewhere nearby.

The calorie-laden acorns of oaks have supplied fats, oils, and protein to mankind for thousands of years. A one ounce (28.3g) serving of shelled acorn meat contains about 110 calories in the form of 6.8g of fats and 1.7g of protein, plus a small amount of calcium. Acorns can be ground into a gluten-free, high-protein flour good for making flat breads and batter-style baked goods as well as to thicken stews and to make gravy. Roasted acorns have been used as a substitute for coffee grounds, but all that can be said about that is the resulting liquid is brown and bitter, any similarity to it and coffee is strictly due to the desperation of the brewer.

Acorn must have their tannic acid leached out before consumption. Luckily tannic acid is very water-soluble and easy leach out by placing the shelled, crushed nuts in a mesh bag then submersing them in running water for several days. An easier method is to coarsely chop them in a blender or food processor then repeatedly running them through a coffee maker until they no longer taste bitter. The hot water will extract the tannins but do not allow the acorns to cool between flushes or the tannic acid will bind more tightly to the acorn meat. Also, do not grind the acorns finely before leach them as a flour-sized particles will clog the filter.

Unfortunately, the fats and oils in acorns turn rancid fairly quickly. Fresh ground acorn flour will go bad in as little as four weeks if exposed to air and warm temperatures. Freezing the flour, especially if vacuum-packed (a messy process) can stretch its usable life to six months. You are better off freezing the un-shelled acorn and just leaching and grinding as you need it. Frozen, vacuum-packed acorns still in their shell can last up to a year.

White oaks (Quercus alba) produce the least bitter nuts, followed by Red oaks (Quercus rubra) but even both of these need the tannins leached from their acorns. White oak acorns mature in one year while Red oak acorns take two years to complete their growth. Pin oaks (Quercus palustris) are related to Red oaks while Bur oaks (Quercus macrocarpa) are related to White oaks. Live Oaks (Quercus fusiformis) produce the least desirable acorns as they are hard to remove from their shells and are very bitter.

To use acorns as a caffeine-free coffee substitute coarse-grind them then roast them at 400F in an oven to a dark brown color. At this point you can use them just like ground coffee.

The oak gall wasp likes to lay its eggs under the tender bark of new oak twigs. Doing so somehow triggers the formation of a round oak gall. The oak tree doesn't like this much and starts pumping assorted chemicals into the gall to try and kill the wasp larva. The end result is a small, hard ball loaded with medicinal properties. These galls were crushed and then used to make ointments, tinctures, medicated oils, and teas to fight infections inside and outside of the body. The crushed oak galls were also combined with iron salts in vinegar to create a very dark, non-fading ink.

Next plant: Agarita

Agarita

Scientific Name(s): Mahonia trifoliolata
Abundance: common
What: Berries
How: raw, cooked, jam, jelly, wine, syrup, roast seeds for coffee
Where: Hill Country, dry grasslands
When: Spring
Nutritional Value: Vit. C

Agarita shrub.
AgaritaShrub

Agarita flower buds (picture taken in February in the Hill Country).
Agarita

Open agarita flowers (picture taken in February in the Hill Country).
Agarita

Closeup of ripe and almost ripe agarita berries.
AgaritaBerries

Closeup of agarita leaf.
agaritaleaf

Texas distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture. The marked counties are guidelines only. Plants may appear in other counties, especially if used in landscaping.
AgaritaTX

North American distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture.
Agarita

The evergreen agarita is a common 2’-6’ shrub found across Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. Its unusual, three-part leaves are grey-green, very stiff and pointy so harvesting their fruit can be a bit painful. The yellow flowers appear in late winter followed by red, edible fruit in the spring. Agaritas prefer dry areas with well-drained and somewhat alkaline soil along with full sun to partial shade. The shrubs usually gather around mesquite and other small trees. I haven't seen any out standing alone.

In Spring agarita shrubs are loaded with small, bright red berries. These sweet, slightly tart berries can be eaten raw or cooked in any manner one would prepare any berry such as jam, jelly, or wine. The juice from these berries has a pleasingly complex sweet and sour flavor. The small seeds can be roasted then ground for a caffeine-free coffee substitute.

Agaritas have multiple medicinal uses. The leaves can be chewed fresh or dried to help relieve nausea, especial that accompanying hangovers and motion sickness. A tea made from dried leaves will also offer relief. The yellow wood of the roots contain anti-bacterial and anti-viral compounds along with bitter components to help with digestion and other stomach issues such as diarrhea. The root wood is usually finely shaved and then made into a tincture with vodka.

Next plant: Agave

Agave

Scientific Name(s): Agave spp.
Abundance: rare
What: flowers, stalks, leaves, body/root, sap
How: flowers are cooked; flower stalks are roasted; sap is fermented (woo hoo!); leaves are cooked; body/root is slow roasted.
Where: dry areas, landscaping
When: all year
Nutritional Value: Calories
Dangers: Raw agave juice can cause long-lasting burns to skin, eyes, and other sensitive tissues. Be careful when cutting this plant so as not to splatter this juice on you. These plants also contain large quantities of saponins (soap).

Agave1

Agave1

Agave flower stalk.
Agave2

Texas Distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture. The marked counties are guidelines only. Plants may appear in other counties, especially if used in landscaping.
AgaveTX

North American Distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture.
Agave

Looking like a cross between a cactus and a squid, slow-growing agave plants are found wild the arid Southwest but also as a decorative landscaping plant all over Texas and the South. Mature agave can stretch up to 16’ across and send flower stalks 10’ or more into the sky.

Agave plants are a regular smorgasbord of food, though all parts of the plant except for the sap must be cooked in some manner to make them sweet and destroy their bitter-tasting saponins. Unlike most wild edible plants, when harvesting agave you want to find the biggest, oldest plants as these will have the most sugar. Traditionally the flowers and leaves were boiled or roasted. After removing the leaves the body & root should be slow roasted, often for two days, to release its sugars. The sweet flesh is chewed off the fibrous body/root. Flower stalks are also roasted, but for shorter time as they are smaller. Note that removing the flower stalk will kill the plant. After roasting the food can be dried and stored for later use.

If the top of the agave plant is removed but the root left in the ground sap will flow up for hours. Collect and ferment this sap to form a weak tequila. A sweet syrup can also be pressed from the roasted body & root of agave. This syrup forms the basis for mescal alcohol. The seeds can be toasted then ground into a flour.

Uncooked roots contain high levels of saponins, a soap-like compound which will lather in soft water and can be used for washing. This soap was also used by natives to kill fish by tossing pounded globs of root into small ponds. The soap screws up the functioning of fishes' gills, causing them suffocate and float to the surface.

Fibers in the leaves can be used for cordage. Pound the fleshy leaves between two logs to separate the fibers from pulp, then braid into rope.

Warning: The moist, fleshy interior of the leaves is somewhat acidic and can cause permanent eye damage.

Next plant: Algae

Allegheny Chinkapin

Scientific Name(s): Castanea pumila
Abundance: rare
What: nuts
How: raw or roasted
Where: sandy, shaded areas near water
When: fall
Nutritional Value: calories, protein
Dangers: nut husks are very prickly

Allegheny Chinkapin leaves.
ChinkapinLeaves1

Close-up of leaves.
ChinkapinLeaves

Nut pods in the fall, having dropped some of the nuts.
ChinkapinPods2

Close-up of pods with and without nuts.
ChinkapinNut

Close-up of shelled nuts. This picture was taken a month after they had ripened and so they've begun to dry out but are still edible.
Allegheny Chinquapin

Texas distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture. The marked counties are guidelines only. Plants may appear in other counties, especially if used in landscaping.
ChinquapinTXMap

North American distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture.
ChinkapinMapNA

To stumble upon a stand of Allegheny Chinkapins is to stumble upon treasure. These large, usually multi-trunked bushes/small trees suffered from Chestnut Blight leading to reduced numbers across much of North America. A rare stand can still be found growing under larger trees in the sandy soil of tall banks overlooking water. The sandy soil gives them the drainage they need to avoid root-rot while the larger trees partially protects them from the fierce Texas sun. The long, narrow, sharply-toothed leaves, deep green on top and pale underneath, are arranged in an alternate pattern along the branches. In the spring long clusters of small, tan-yellow flowers hang from the tree. By fall these clusters have been replaced with sharp, spikey pods, each containing what looks like a small acorn.

Harvesting these nuts takes some work as they cling to the tree and are protected by the sharp, spiny remains of their outer husks. One usually has to carefully pick nuts off the shrub/tree one by one. You are likely to find some of the nuts have already germinated while still attached to the tree. Don't eat these but instead carefully plant them nearby.

Allegheny Chinkapin nuts lack tannins or other bitter compounds and so have a sweet, nutty flavor when eaten raw. Being so rare, limit yourself to just a nut or three. Take a few more to plant in similar locations so as to try and bring back this amazingly delicious treat. Animals love these nuts so getting them before squirrels, raccoons, possums and the such is tricky.

Like chestnuts, Allegheny Chinkapin nuts can be roasted to give almost a chocolatey sort of flavor. Place the uncracked nuts on a cookie sheet in an oven at 350F. After five minutes pull out a nut, crack it open and taste it. The roasting time is a personal preference but if the nuts' shells begin cracking it's definitely time to pull them out.

If you do over-roast the nuts they can still be used to make a caffeine-free coffee substitute. Grind the shelled nuts in a coffee grinder then either use them as is or combine them with real coffee to make a pot of brown, somewhat bitter fluid.

Next plant: Alligator Weed

Algae

Scientific Name(s): too many to list
Abundance: plentiful
What: "stringy" strands.
How: boiled, stewed
Where: water
When: spring, summer
Nutritional Value: carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins.
Dangers: must be boiled, globular algae are toxic.

Strands of long, edible algae found in a stream.
Algae

Clumping algae like this should be considered toxic.
Algae

Algae can be found in both running and still waters exposed to some sunlight. It will usually be clinging to rocks or other ridged surface such as logs and turtles. Only the stringy type is edible while globular, gooey forms are dangerously toxic.

Unlike many tasty salt-water seaweeds, freshwater algae can be unpleasant to eat and is generally considered to be a survival food eaten when little else is available. It is best finely chopped and then added to other soups, stews, curries or other sauces where it will be simmered for a long time. Cooking it in this manner will help break it down into more digestible matter. Algae can be dried first and then crumbled into the aforementioned sauces.

Warning: Algae must be cooked to kill any aquatic pathogens which can make you very sick.

Next plant: Allegheny Chinkapin

Alligator Weed

Scientific Name(s): Alternanthera philoxeroides
Abundance: plentiful
What: stems, leaves
How: cooked
Where: shallow water, full sun
When: spring, summer, fall
Nutritional Value: extremely high in minerals, contains fair amount of protein
Dangers: accumulates toxic minerals if present in the water or soil.

Bed of alligator weeds.
Alligatorweed2

Close-up of alligator weed stems, leaves, and flowers.
Alligatorweed1

Alligatorweed

Close-up of alligator weed leaves.
alligatorweed

Close-up of alligator weed flower.
AlligatorweedFlower

Texas distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture. The marked counties are guidelines only. Plants may appear in other counties, especially if used in landscaping.
AlligatorWeedTX

North American distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture.
AlligatorWeed

Forming thick mats along the shores of shallow water, the invasive, foreign alligator weed has become an all too common sight on Texas shorelines and river banks. The vine-like plants start on shore and creep out to cover the surface of the water.

Cooked alligator weed has a mild, pleasant taste and is a wonderful source of minerals. Treat it like spinach but do not eat it raw. It must be cooked to kill any aquatic parasites. The stems are best chopped up so as to minimize any toughness they might have. The newest growth will be the most tender.

Warning: The water and mud in which it is growing must be free of any harmful minerals or heavy metals as the plant will gather and concentrate these toxic compounds. This accumulating power has been harnessed for bio-remediation of highly contaminated locations.

Next plant: Alyssum

Alyssum

Scientific Name(s): Lobularia maritima
Abundance: common
What: seeds, flowers
How: raw
Where: flower beds, landscaping
When: Fall, Winter, Spring
Nutritional Value: Vitamins, minerals, phyto-compounds,
Dangers: beware of pesticides

Alyssum flowers in a flower bed.
AlyssumFlowers1

Close-up of flower and seed pods.
AlyssumFlower3

Close-up of flower.
AlyssumFlower2

North American distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture.
Alyssum

People are surprised to learn sweet alyssum is actually a mustard (Brassica family). It's "fairy spiral" arrangement of seed pods and the four-petaled, six-stamened (4 tall, 2 short) flower are the clue. Generally considered to be a cool-weather plant, sweet alyssum is found in many flowerbeds fall to spring. Come summer’s heat they wilt and are usually removed.

While the flowers have a wonderful sweet aroma, the name "Sweet Alyssum" is somewhat misleading when it comes to flavor of raw, young, green seed pods which have the same spicy bite of other mustards. This makes them a funky replacement for radishes in a salad. They also go well with meats where one would normally add a dash of horseradish. The flowers can be eaten any time but the seed pods have the best texture/mouth-feel when still soft and green. The flavor of the leaves is unpleasant to most people but can still be cooked in the same manner as traditional mustard greens.

Warning: Beware of pesticides when harvesting sweet alyssum from flower beds, though if you are following the law you will have already talked to the owner and he/she can tell you if the bed had been sprayed.

Next plant: Amaranth

Amaranth

Scientific name: Amaranthus spp.
Abundance: common
What: young leaves, seeds
How: Young leaves raw or cooked, seeds eaten raw, roasted or ground into flour
Where: sunny fields, disturbed areas
When: summer
Nutritional Value: Grains supply protein, calories, and minerals. Leaves vitamins A & C along with minerals calcium, iron, and phosphorous, and also fiber.

Amaranth (Amaranthus powellii)
Amaranth

Another type of amaranth.
Amaranth1

Another variation of amaranth.
Amaranth2
Amaranth1

Red amaranth (often used as decorative plant).
redamaranth1

Another amaranth.
Amaranth

Amaranth

Prostrate pigweed aka Amaranthus blitoides seedling.
Amaranth1

Mature prostrate pigweed (Amaranthus blitoides).
Pigweed1

Shiny/silvery underside of prostrate pigweed (Amaranthus blitoides).
Pigweed2

Still more amaranths.
Amaranth

Amaranth Prostrate Pigweed IGFB4

And yet more amaranths.
Amaranth Flowers IGFB2

Amaranth Leaves IGFB15

Texas distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture. The marked counties are guidelines only. Plants may appear in other counties, especially if used in landscaping.
AmaranthTX

North American distribution, attributed to U. S. Department of Agriculture.
Amaranth

A variety of amaranth species can be found across Texas and the South. Shapes range from prostrate, creeping vine-like weeds to striking, tall, cultivated forms. The most distinctive feature of all amaranths is their spikes of tiny, clustered flowers which are the same color as the rest of the plant. Amaranths are most commonly found in sunny, disturbed areas and wastelands such as abandoned lots and roadsides. Bright red versions are often included in landscaping.

Amaranth leaves can be eaten raw or used as a spinach substitute in any dish. The leaves are high in vitamin A & C, assorted necessary minerals and also fiber. The youngest leaves have the best flavor and texture, but even the large, old leaves can be chopped up and included in any food needing a vegetable.

Amaranth seeds are very rich in carbohydrates and up to 16% protein by weight. Better still, the seeds contain the amino acid lysine which is very rare for plants but vital for human health. A single plant can produce as many as 100,000 of these wonderful, slightly nutty-tasting seeds. They can be eaten raw but toasting and then grinding into flour releases the most nutrition. The ornamental varieties are just as productive as the wild one but are more attractive. Amaranth seeds have even been used to make a gluten-free beer.

Next plant: Arrow-Wood

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