Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER)

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Amaranthus cruentus
L., Amaranthaceae
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Present on Pacific Islands?  yes

Primarily a threat at high elevations?  no

Other Latin names:  Amaranthus paniculatus L.

Common name(s): [more details]

Chinese: lao ya gu

English: African-spinach, blood amaranth, bush greens, caterpillar amaranth, Indian-spinach, panicled amaranth, purple amaranth, red amaranth, red shank, Sudan-spinach, wild amaranth

French: amarante, amarante étalée, queue de renard

Spanish: achita, bledo

Habit:  herb

Description:  "To 6 ft.; leaves long-petioled, to 12 in. long, ovate-lanceolate to rhombic; inflorescence a terminal panicle of red or purple spikes, lateral spikes mostly horizontally divergent.  Probably a cultigen, and by some treated as a variety of A. hybridus."  (Bailey & Bailey, 1976; p. 65)

A. hybridus:  "Annual herb, erect or less commonly ascending, up to 2 (-3) m in cultivated forms, but much less in spontaneous plants, not infrequently reddish tinted throughout.  Stems stout, branched, angular, glabrous or thinly to moderately furnished with short or long multicellular hairs (increasingly so above, especially in the inflorescence).  Leaves glabrous, or thinly pilose on the lower margins and underside of the primary nervation, long-petiolate (petioles up to 15 cm but even then scarcely exceeding the lamina); lamina broadly lanceolate to rhomboid or ovate, 3-19 (-30) x 1.5-8 (-12) cm, gradually narrowed to the blunt to subacute mucronulate tip, attenuate or shortly cuneate into the petiole below.  Flowers in yellowish, green, reddish or purple axillary and terminal spikes formed of cymose clusters, which are increasingly closely approximate upwards, the terminal inflorescence varying from a single spike to a broad much-branched panicle up to more or less 45 x 25 cm, the ultimate spike not infrequently nodding; male and female flowers intermixed throughout the spikes.  Bracts and bracteoles deltoid-ovate to deltoid-lanceolate, pale and membranous, acuminate and with a long pale to reddish-tipped erect arista formed by the stout excurrent yellow or greenish midrib; bracteoles subequalling to much exceeding the perianth.  Perianth-segments 5, lanceolate or oblong, 1.5-3.5 mm, acute-aristate or the inner in female sometimes blunt, only the midrib at most greenish.  Stigmas (2-) 3, erect, flexuose or recurved, more or less 0.75-1.25 mm.  Capsule subglobose to ovoid to ovoid-urceolate, 2-3 mm, circumscissile, with a moderately distinct to obsolete beak, lid smooth, longitudinally sulcate or sometimes rugulose below the neck.  Seed black and shining, or pale, compressed, 0.75-1.25 mm, almost smooth centrally, faintly reticulate around the margins.

subsp. hybridus:  "Stigma-bases and upper part of lid of fruit swollen so that the fruit has a distinct inflated beak.  Inner perianth-segments of female flowers commonly acute.  Longer bracteoles of female flowers mostly about twice as long as the perianth.

subsp. cruentus [=A. cruentus]:  "Longer bracteoles of female flowers mostly 1-1.5 times as long as the perianth.  Stigma-bases and upper part of lid of fruit scarcely swollen, fruit with a short, smooth beak.  Inner perianth-segments of female flowers commonly obtuse"  (Townsend, 1985; pp. 25-26).

Habitat/ecology:  In East Africa, "commonly as a weed of cultivation, also on broken waste ground, in short grassland and in shaded places at forest edges; 20-1790 m" [A. hybridus subsp. cruentus] (Townsend, 1985; pp. 25-26).  In Hawai‘i, A. cruentus is an escape from cultivation (Wagner et al., 1999; pp. 186, 189). In New Zealand, "crops, gardens, waste places in settled areas" (Webb et al., 1988; p. 104). In Papua New Guinea, "probably associated exclusively with areas under cultivation at 1200-2200 m altitude"  (Womersley, 1978; p. 23).

Propagation:  Seed

Native range:  "Presumably of Central American origin, now widespread in tropical and subtropical regions of the world; the red form (which is probably of cultivated derivation) is cultivated as an ornamental in temperate regions also, occasionally escaping there." (Townsend, 1985; pp. 25-26)

Presence:

Pacific
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
State of Hawaii
Hawaiian Islands
Hawaiian Islands introduced
cultivated
Wagner, Warren L./Herbst, Derral R./Sohmer, S. H. (1999) (p. 186)
Occasional escape.
New Caledonia
Îles Loyauté (Loyalte Islands)
Îles Loyauté (Loyalty Islands) introduced
invasive
Tassin, Jacques (2005)
New Caledonia
New Caledonia
New Caledonia Islands   Swarbrick, John T. (1997) (p. 88)
New Caledonia
New Caledonia Archipelago
Île Grande Terre introduced
invasive
Tassin, Jacques (2005)
New Caledonia
New Caledonia Archipelago
Île des Pins (Isle of Pines) introduced
invasive
Tassin, Jacques (2005)
Papua New Guinea
Bismarck Archipelago
Bismarck Archipelago cultivated
Peekel, P. G. [translated by E. E. Henty] (1984) (p. 164)
Leaf-vegetable, in the gardens and plantations of the natives.
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea (eastern New Guinea Island)
Papua New Guinea (eastern New Guinea Island) introduced
invasive
Womersley, John S., ed. (1978) (pp. 23-24)
Philippines
Philippine Islands
Philippine Islands introduced
invasive
cultivated
Merrill, Elmer D. (1923) (p. 128)
As Amaranthus paniculatus L. In oopen waste places at low and medium altitudes, sometimes cultivated; certainly introduced.
Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands   Swarbrick, John T. (1997) (p. 88)
Tonga
Vava‘u Group
Vava‘u Island   Yuncker, T. G. (1959) (p. 107)
As Amaranthus paniculatus L. Cited: Barlay.
Vanuatu
New Hebrides Islands
Vanuatu (Republic of)   Swarbrick, John T. (1997) (p. 88)
Pacific Rim
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Australia
Australia (continental)
Australia (continental)   Holm, Leroy/Pancho, Juan V./Herberger, James P./Plucknett, Donald L. (1979) (p. 18)
China
China
China (People's Republic of) introduced
cultivated
Zhengyi, Wu/Raven, Peter H./Deyuan, Hong (2013)
Japan
Japan
Japan (country) introduced
Mito, Toshikazu/Uesugi, Tetsuro (2004) (p. 182)
New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand (country) introduced
invasive
Webb, C. J./Sykes, W. R./Garnock-Jones, P. J. (1988) (p. 104)
Indian Ocean
Country/Terr./St. &
Island group
Location Cited status &
Cited as invasive &
Cited as cultivated &
Cited as aboriginal introduction?
Reference &
Comments
Australia (Indian Ocean offshore islands)
Christmas Island Group
Christmas Island extirpated
Swarbrick, J. T. (1997) (p. 103)
Australia (Indian Ocean offshore islands)
Christmas Island Group
Christmas Island native
Orchard, Anthony E., ed. (1993) (p. 16)


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This page was created on 22 SEP 2002 and was last updated on 17 FEB 2007.