In ancient Greece, the amaranth (also called chrysanthemum and helichrysum) was sacred to Ephesian Artemis. It was supposed to have special healing properties, and, as a symbol of immortality, was used to decorate images of the gods and tombs. In legend, Amarynthus was a hunter of Artemis and king of Euboea; in a village of Amarynthus, of which he was the eponymous hero, there was a famous temple of Artemis Amarynthia or Amarysia. It was also widely used by the Chinese for its healing chemicals, curing illnesses such as infections, rashes, and migraines. The “Amarantos” is the name of a several-century-old popular Greek folk song:
Look at the amaranth,On tall mountains it grows,
On the very stones and rocks, And places inaccessible.
Cooked amaranth leaves are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and foliate; they are also a complementing source of other vitamins such as thiamine, niacin, and riboflavin, plus some dietary minerals including calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, copper, and manganese. Cooked amaranth grains are a complementing source of thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, and foliate, and dietary minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and manganese – comparable to common grains such as wheat germ, oats and others. Amaranth seeds contain lysine, an essential amino acid, limited in other grains or plant sources. Most fruits and vegetables do not contain a complete set of amino acids, and thus different sources of protein must be used. Amaranth too is limited in some essential amino acids, such as leucine and threonine. Amaranth seeds are therefore promising complement to common grains such as wheat germ, oats, corn because these common grains are abundant sources of essential amino acids found to be limited in amaranth.
Sun: Full Sun
Spacing: 10 – 11”
Height: 24 – 36″
Optimum Soil Ph: 5.5-7.0, Ideal 6.0-6.5
Days To Maturity: 25 – 55
Sowing Method: Start Indoors
Seeds should be sown in spring and can be started in an indoor seed raising tray earlier, if kept warm enough. The seeds require a soil temperature of at least 20 C to germinate. Sow or plant out with spacing of 10 inches and water well until the plants are established. It takes 55 days from seed to harvest but young leaves can be picked from as early as 25 days. Flowers should appear on straight stems from mid-summer until the weather grows too cold and/or frosty. The colours should become more intense as the plant ages.