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Wild amaranth (Amaranthus graecizans)

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This datasheet is pending revision and updating; its contents are currently derived from FAO's Animal Feed Resources Information System (1991-2002) and from Bo Göhl's Tropical Feeds (1976-1982).

Datasheet

Description
Click on the "Nutritional aspects" tab for recommendations for ruminants, pigs, poultry, rabbits, horses, fish and crustaceans
Common names 

Wild amaranth, prostrate amaranth, spreading pigweed [English]; amarante sauvage, amarante sylvestre, amarante africaine [French]; amaranto, brodo, tristes [Portuguese]; Mchicha [Swahili]; Emboge [Uganda]; Landchi [Hausa]; Foubéhi [Djerma]; Légey [Peuhl]; Tadchialane-Gathaiy [Tamachek]

Description 

Wild amaranth (Amaranthus graecizans) is an annual, summer growing species of herb that is mainly used as a vegetable. It can however be used as fodder (silage) for livestock (Bartha, 1970).

Morphology

Wild amaranth (Amaranthus graecizans) is a small (45-70 cm), prostrate or decumbent annual plant. It is often heavily branched from the base. The stems are erect to decumbent, pubescent in distal parts or becoming glabrescent at maturity. Stems and branches are slender to stout, angular in shape. The leaves are simple, spirally arranged, borne on 3-5 cm long petioles. The leaf blade is variable in shape from broadly ovate to narrowly linear lanceolate, 1.2-4.5 cm long × 3-12 (30) mm broad. Inflorescences are green axillary clusters bearing male and female flowers. The upper clusters bear more male flowers than the lower ones. Fruits are dehiscent globose, one-seeded capsules, 2-2.5 mm in diameter. The seeds are black, shiny, lenticular in shape, about 1-1.3 mm (Maundu et al., 2004).

Uses

Wild amaranth is mainly harvested from the wild and used as a cooked leaf vegetable or as a potherb by elder people, for example in Uganda,  who appreciate its bitter taste (Hart et al., 2005; Maundu et al., 2004). Though its use is not easy since the shoots have many flowers that are not eaten and it is thus necessary to pick leaves only: a time-consuming activity that hinders  wild amaranth value on the market. Wild amaranth may also be used as fodder for livestock which likes it (Bartha, 1970). The seeds can be ground into flour to make cakes in Mauritania and western USA. The ashes from wild amaranth can be used as a substitute of salt. Like other plants, wild amaranth has some ethnomedicinal applications. In Senegal, it is claimed to have anthelmintic activity (Maundu et al., 2004). It contains many active substances (terpenoids, tannins, etc...) and was shown to have antioxidant properties (Ishtiaq et al., 2014)

Distribution 

Wild amaranth is thought to be native to the Mediterranean Basin and Asia. It can be found scattered in most african countries and in the South of Europe. It is found from sea level up to 2900 m altitude. As a plant following the C4 photosynthetic pathway, it does well in hot sunny areas where water can be scarce. It grows on degraded land and waste ground around garden and fields (Fern, 2019; Maundu et al., 2004).

It does well on well-drained, moist, fertile sandy soils with a wide range of pH, in sheltered and sunny places. It is sensitive to frost and to full shade but still grows under partial shade at forest edges (Fern, 2019; Maundu et al., 2004).

Forage management 

It can be propagated by seeds or cuttings. It is mainly found wild and harvested for its leaves which require fresh water to be kept fresh when sold on market (Maundu et al., 2004).

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

The leaves are used both as feed for animals and food for humans.

Potential constraints 

Anti-nutritional factors (ANF)

Amaranths (Amaranthus spp.) contains many ANF like phenolics, saponins, tannins, phytic acid, oxalates, protease inhibitors, nitrates, polyphenols and phytohemagglutinins (Lehman, 1992). Among these, nitrates and oxalates might be of concern in animal feeding when the diet is not balanced with other feeds (O’Brien et al., 2008). Processing (moist heat) could reduce the adverse effects of amaranth's antinutritional and toxic factors (Alegbejo, 2013).

Nitrate accumulator

Amaranth (Amaranthus spp.) are prone to accummulate nitrate in their green tissues and not in the seeds.Wild amaranth should not be grown on N rich soils. Nitrates could be of concern when the plants have suffered from drought or frost. Oxalates and nitrates are of more concern when amaranth grain is used in foraging applications (Alegbejo, 2013).

Toxicity

In Australia, chicken fed on raw amaranth grain (Amaranthus spp.) had convulsion and subsequently died. Liver damage was reported to have occured but the toxic factor remained unidentified (Cheeke et al., 1980 cited by Alegbejo, 2013).

Ruminants 

Wild amaranth is liked by livestock which eats it as silage (Bartha, 1970).

Rabbits 

As of  2021, no information seems available in the international literature on the use of any part of wild amaranth (Amaranthus graecizans) in domestic rabbit feeding.

However, "Emboge" (local name for wild amaranth (Amaranthus graecizans)) is traditionally consumed as vegetable by elder people in Uganda (Hart et al., 2005). In Southern Idaho (USA) wild jack rabbits consume this spontaneous plant in August (Fagerstone et al., 1980).

Thus, wild amaranth could probably be a safe forage suitable for rabbits. Direct experiments would be welcome.

Nutritional tables
Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value 

Avg: average or predicted value; SD: standard deviation; Min: minimum value; Max: maximum value; Nb: number of values (samples) used

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This datasheet is pending revision and updating; its contents are currently derived from FAO's Animal Feed Resources Information System (1991-2002) and from Bo Göhl's Tropical Feeds (1976-1982).

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Crude protein % DM 19.9       1  
Crude fibre % DM 21.0       1  
Ether extract % DM 1.5       1  
Ash % DM 17.0       1  
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 16.7         *
               
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Calcium g/kg DM 18.1       1  
Phosphorus g/kg DM 5.4       1  
Potassium g/kg DM 37.0       1  
Sodium g/kg DM 0.2       1  
Magnesium g/kg DM 8.9       1  

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.

References

Bartha, 1970

Last updated on 24/10/2012 00:43:37

References
References 
Datasheet citation 

DATASHEET UNDER CONSTRUCTION. DO NOT QUOTE. https://www.feedipedia.org/node/187 Last updated on June 4, 2021, 10:43