amaranth ăm´ərănth˝ [key] [Gr.,=unfading], common name for the Amaranthaceae (also commonly known as the pigweed family), a family of herbs, trees, and vines of warm regions, especially in the Americas and Africa. The genus Amaranthus includes several widely distributed species called amaranths that are characterized by a lasting red pigment in the stems and leaves. They have been a poetic symbol of immortality from the time of ancient Greece. Amaranthus also includes such weeds as the green amaranth, A. retroflexus, and various species commonly called tumbleweed and pigweed , as well as several cultivated plants—e.g., love-lies-bleeding, or tassel flower, and Joseph's coat. Other ornamentals in the family are the globe amaranth (genus Gomphrenia ), sometimes called bachelor's button, and the cockscomb ( Celosia ), both originally tropical annuals. They can be preserved dry and are used in everlasting bouquets. Amaranth is classified in the division Magnoliophyta , class Magnoliopsida, order Caryophyllales.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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