Amaranth Flowers

The amaranth flower is a genus of roughly 60 species, which are all considered cosmopolitan. These annual herbs, which are native to North and South America, can grow between 1 to 6 feet in height, and are thought to be very long lasting plants. This flower, which is a member of the amaranthaceae family and amaranthoideae subfamily, is made up of a small inflorescence which blossoms from an either drooping or erect spike. Their colors range from the well known crimson red, to purple and even golden hues. Amaranth are thought to be very hardy plants which are resistant to most diseases; however, they are susceptible to frost, and are best grown in warmer weather.

The amaranth flower is one of the most useful blossoms around. These plants are not only loved for their ornamental applications, but also for their use as a food source, dye and medicine. To the pre-Columbian Aztecs the amaranth flower was thought to have supernatural properties, and so it became a nutritious staple in their everyday diets. Today, the use of amaranth as food is still quite common. In Mexico, the grains are popped and mixed with a sugar solution; in Nepal, the seeds are turned into a gruel called sattoo; in both Peru and Ecuador, the seeds are used to create drinks. In Peru the seeds are fermented to create a beer called chicha; in Ecuador they a boiled and mixed with rum, which is said to regulate menstrual cycles and purify the blood. In the United States, amaranth is slowly becoming widely accepted as a natural food staple, and can be found in many health stores. In this particular part of the world, the seeds are made into cereals, popped, toasted and ground into flour which is often turned into pastas, breads and pastries. As well as being an excellent source of protein, these plants are also well loved by artisans and crafters. The flowers of the amaranthus cruentus plant were often used by the Hopi people to create dyes and food coloring which was occasionally used for ceremonial purposes. Today, these plants are frequently dried and used for a number of art projects, as they retain their shape and color even after they have lost all of their moisture.

The amaranth flower is considered one of the central symbols for immortality, as its name – which is derived from the Greek language – means “unfading.” Many people present this flower by itself, not just as an attractive blossom, but to represent their unfading affection for the recipient. These flowers may also be given as garlands or crowns to express the wish of good fortune to those who receive them.

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