Common names (selected) English: African spinach, calalu, callaloo, green amaranth, local tete, pigweed, Prince of Wales feather, rough pigweed, slender amaranth, wild amaranth; Chinese: 野莧菜 (wild leek); DR Congo: Congo: bamboo, dunda, kwelekwele, lenga-lenga, livanga, lonenge, m'bowa, mobela, mocumbe, mofoto, munana, nadily-m'puluka, porio, poto; French: amarante verte, épinard vert, épinard du Congo; Portguese (Brazil): carurú-comum, caruru-de-mancha, carurú-de-porco; Spanish: bledo blanco (Argentina), bledo manso (Colombia), bledo verde (Colombia), caruru (Argentina), chichimeca (Argentina), citaco (Argentina), lumboo (Puerto Rico); Tagalog (transcribed, Philippines): colites
Description: Annual. Most if not all members of this genus photosynthesize by a more efficient method than most plants. Called the 'C4 carbon-fixation pathway', this process is particularly efficient at high temperatures, in bright sunlight and under dry conditions
Native regions and distribution: Place of origin is unknown but thought to be native to South America. Currently it is found worldwide in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions.
Urban habitat: Commonly found along roadsides, wastelands and other frequently disturbed places.
Ecological function: Food and habitat for caterpillars and other insects
History/human uses: The genus Amaranthus means unfading, which refers to the everlasting flowers while viridis means fresh green. A. viridis is used as traditional medicine in treatment of fever, pain, asthma, constipation, diabetes, dysentery, hemorrhoids, urinary disorders, liver disorders, eye disorders and venereal diseases. The plant also possesses anti-microbial properties and has been the subject of recent studies for potential uses as an anticancer agent. In Nigeria, an infusion of the whole plant is used to purify the blood and the pounded root is applied against dysentery. In Côte d’Ivoire leaf sap is used as an eye wash to treat eye infections and for treating convulsions and epilepsy in children. In DR Congo the sap is said to act as a vermifuge, being effective against filaria, as an emmenagogue and to relieve heart troubles. It is edible and its leaves are said to be an excellent substitute for spinach. The nutty edible seeds can be eaten as snacks or used in biscuits and porridge can be made by boiling the seeds in water. In northeastern India, it is known as Cheng-kruk and eaten traditionally as a vegetable. It is also a common vegetable in Bengali cuisine and is called "note shak.” The plant is also a good cattle fodder and green manure. Ash of A. viridis is rich in soda and is occasionally used to make soap. Yellow and green dyes can be obtained from the whole plant.