|Joseph's coat amaranth is ornamental and (technically) edible|
Like trendy quinoa, its kissing cousin, this South/Central American native is an ancient grain. More precisely, it's a pseudograin, because although the seed can be used like a cereal, the plant isn't a grass. Amaranth seed is high in protein, and the Aztecs prized it highly.
Not every amaranth is so good for you, but many are. It comes from the great big goosefoot family, along with spinach, beets, chard – and edible weeds pigweed and lamb's quarters.
Many places on Earth also value amaranth as a veggie, as common names like Chinese spinach suggest. The leaves are usually steamed, and some areas of the Caribbean use them in their local versions of callaloo. In fact, callaloo is another of this plant's aliases.
Then there's the pretty part. Amaranthus caudatus is the unique, tasseled flower we call "love lies bleeding." Other ornamental amaranths have upright spikes or green tassels. And, above, are the gorgeous, multicoloured (and technically edible) leaves of Amaranthus tricolor 'Perfecta.'
But who could bear to lop them off to cook for dinner?