Amaranthus Amaranthus caudatus Scientific classification Kingdom: Plantae (unranked): Angiosperms (unranked): Eudicots (unranked): Core eudicots Order: Caryophyllales Family: Amaranthaceae Subfamily: Amaranthoideae Genus: Amaranthus
Amaranthus, collectively known as amaranth, is a cosmopolitan genus of herbs. Approximately 60 species are recognized, with inflorescences and foliage ranging from purple and red to gold. Members of this genus share many characteristics and uses with members of the closely related genus Celosia.
The ultimate root of "amaranth" is the Greek ἀμάραντος (amarantos) "unfading" with the Greek word for "flower" ἄνθος (anthos) factoring into the word's development as "amaranth" - the more correct "amarant" is an archaic variant.
Amaranthus shows a wide variety of morphological diversity among and even within certain species. Although the family (Amaranthaceae) is distinctive, the genus has few distinguishing characters among the 70 species included. This complicates taxonomy and Amaranthus has generally been considered among systematists as a "difficult" genus.
Formerly, Sauer (1955) classified the genus into 2 sub-genera, differentiating only between monoecious and dioecious species: Acnida (L.) Aellen ex K.R. Robertson and Amaranthus. Although this classification was widely accepted, further infrageneric classification was (and still is) needed to differentiate this widely diverse group.
Currently, Amaranthus includes 3 recognized sub-genera and 70 species, although species numbers are questionable due to hybridization and species concepts. Infrageneric classification focuses on inflorescence, flower characters and whether a species is monoecious/dioecious, as in the Sauer (1955) suggested classification. A modified infrageneric classification of Amaranthus was published by Mosyakin & Robertson (1996) and includes 3 subgenera: Acnida, Amaranthus, and Albersia. The taxonomy is further differentiated by sections within each of the sub-genera.
- Amaranthus acanthochiton – greenstripe
- Amaranthus acutilobus – sharp-lobe amaranth; is a synonym of Amaranthus viridis
- Amaranthus albus – white pigweed, prostrate pigweed, pigweed amaranth
- Amaranthus arenicola – sandhill amaranth
- Amaranthus australis – southern amaranth
- Amaranthus bigelovii – Bigelow's amaranth
- Amaranthus blitoides – mat amaranth, prostrate amaranth, prostrate pigweed
- Amaranthus blitum – purple amaranth
- Amaranthus brownii – Brown's amaranth
- Amaranthus californicus – California amaranth, California pigweed
- Amaranthus cannabinus – tidal-marsh amaranth
- Amaranthus caudatus – love-lies-bleeding, pendant amaranth, tassel flower, quilete
- Amaranthus chihuahuensis – chihuahuan amaranth
- Amaranthus chlorostachys
- Amaranthus crassipes – spreading amaranth
- Amaranthus crispus – crispleaf amaranth
- Amaranthus cruentus – purple amaranth, red amaranth, Mexican grain amaranth
- Amaranthus deflexus – large-fruit amaranth
- Amaranthus dubius – spleen amaranth, khada sag
- Amaranthus fimbriatus – fringed amaranth, fringed pigweed
- Amaranthus floridanus – Florida amaranth
- Amaranthus gangeticus – elephant head amaranth
- Amaranthus graecizans
- Amaranthus greggii – Gregg's amaranth
- Amaranthus hybridus – smooth amaranth, smooth pigweed, red amaranth
- Amaranthus hypochondriacus – Prince-of-Wales-feather, princess feather
- Amaranthus leucocarpus
- Amaranthus lineatus – Australian amaranth
- Amaranthus lividus
- Amaranthus mantegazzianus – Quinoa de Castilla
- Amaranthus minimus
- Amaranthus muricatus – African amaranth
- Amaranthus obcordatus – Trans-Pecos amaranth
- Amaranthus oleraceous – Kosala Sag
- Amaranthus palmeri – Palmer's amaranth, palmer pigweed, careless weed
- Amaranthus paniculus – Reuzen amarant
- Amaranthus polygonoides – tropical amaranth
- Amaranthus powellii – green amaranth, Powell amaranth, Powell pigweed
- Amaranthus pringlei – Pringle's amaranth
- Amaranthus pumilus – seaside amaranth
- Amaranthus quitensis – ataco, sangorache
- Amaranthus retroflexus – red-root amaranth, redroot pigweed, common amaranth
- Amaranthus rudis – tall amaranth, common waterhemp
- Amaranthus scleropoides – bone-bract amaranth
- Amaranthus spinosus – spiny amaranth, prickly amaranth, thorny amaranth
- Amaranthus standleyanus
- Amaranthus thunbergii – Thunberg's amaranth
- Amaranthus torreyi – Torrey's amaranth
- Amaranthus tricolor – Joseph's-coat
- Amaranthus tuberculatus – rough-fruit amaranth, tall waterhemp
- Amaranthus viridis – slender amaranth, green amaranth
- Amaranthus watsonii – Watson's amaranth
- Amaranthus wrightii – Wright's amaranth
Several species are raised for amaranth "grain" in Asia and the Americas. This should more correctly be termed "pseudograin" (see below). Amaranth grain contains no gluten and is safe to consume for individuals with coeliac disease.
Ancient amaranth grains still used to this day include the three species, Amaranthus caudatus, Amaranthus cruentus, and Amaranthus hypochondriacus. Although amaranth was cultivated on a large scale in ancient Mexico, Guatemala, and Peru, nowadays it is only cultivated on a small scale there, along with India, China, Nepal, and other tropical countries; thus, there is potential for further cultivation in those countries, as well as in the U.S. In a 1977 article in Science, amaranth was described as "the crop of the future." It has been proposed as an inexpensive native crop that could be cultivated by indigenous people in rural areas for several reasons:
- It is easily harvested.
- It is highly tolerant of arid environments, which are typical of most subtropical and some tropical regions, and
- Its seeds are a good source of protein, rich in essential amino acids such as lysine, while being a poor source of essential amino acids such as leucine and threonine. Common grains such as wheat and corn are rich in amino acids that amaranth lacks; thus, amaranth and other grains can complement each other.
- The seeds of Amaranthus species contain about thirty percent more protein than cereals like rice, sorghum and rye. In cooked and edible forms, amaranth is competitive with wheat germ and oats - higher in some nutrients, lower in others.
- It is easy to cook. As befits its weedy life history, amaranth grains grow very rapidly and their large seedheads can weigh up to 1 kilogram and contain a half-million seeds in three species of amaranth.
Kiwicha, as amaranth is known today in the Andes, was one of the staple foodstuffs of the Incas. Known to the Aztecs as huautli, it is thought to have represented up to 80% of their caloric consumption before the conquest. Another important use of amaranth throughout Mesoamerica was to prepare ritual drinks and foods. To this day, amaranth grains are toasted much like popcorn and mixed with honey, molasses or chocolate to make a treat called alegría, meaning "joy" in Spanish. Diego Duran described the festivities for Huitzilopochtli, a blue hummingbird god. (Real hummingbirds feed on amaranth flowers.) The Aztec month of Panquetzaliztli (7 December to 26 December) was dedicated to Huitzilopochtli. People decorated their homes and trees with paper flags; there were ritual races, processions, dances, songs, prayers, and finally human sacrifices. This was one of the more important Aztec festivals, and the people prepared for the whole month. They fasted or ate very little; a statue of the god was made out of amaranth (huautli) seeds and honey, and at the end of the month, it was cut into small pieces so everybody could eat a little piece of the god. After the Spanish conquest, cultivation of amaranth was outlawed, while some of the festivities were subsumed into the Christmas celebration.
Because of its importance as a symbol of indigenous culture, and because it is very palatable, easy to cook, and its protein particularly well suited to human nutritional needs, interest in grain amaranth (especially A. cruentus and A. hypochondriacus) revived in the 1970s. It was recovered in Mexico from wild varieties and is now commercially cultivated. It is a popular snack sold in Mexico City and other parts of Mexico, sometimes mixed with chocolate or puffed rice, and its use has spread to Europe and parts of North America. Amaranth and quinoa are called pseudograins because of their flavor and cooking similarities to grains. These are dicot plant seeds, and both contain exceptionally complete protein for plant sources. Besides protein, amaranth grain provides a good source of dietary fiber and dietary minerals such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and especially manganese.
Scientific studies suggest Amaranth grain is a good source of essential amino acid lysine, something other grains are low in. Amaranth is not a complete source of essential amino acids. For example, amaranth is limiting in leucine and threonine - essential amino acids that are abundant in other grains. Amaranth may therefore be a promising supplement to other grains.
Amaranth seed flour has been evaluated as an additive to wheat flour by food specialists. To determine palatability, different levels of amaranth grain flour were mixed with the wheat flour and baking ingredients (1% salt, 2.5% fat, 1.5% yeast, 10% sugar and 52–74% water), fermented, molded, pan-proved and baked. The baked products were evaluated for loaf volume, moisture content, color, odor, taste and texture. The amaranth containing products were then compared with bread made from 100% wheat flour. The loaf volume decreased by 40% and the moisture content increased from 22 to 42% with increase in amaranth grain flour. The study found that the sensory scores of the taste, odor color and texture decreased with increasing amounts of amaranth. Generally, above 15% amaranth grain flour, there were significant differences in the evaluated sensory qualities and the high amaranth-containing product was found to be of unacceptable palatability to the population sample that evaluated the baked products.
Leaves, roots, and stems
Amaranth species are cultivated and consumed as a leaf vegetable in many parts of the world. There are four species of Amaranthus documented as cultivated vegetables in eastern Asia: Amaranthus cruentus, Amaranthus blitum, Amaranthus dubius, and Amaranthus tricolor.
In Indonesia and Malaysia, leaf amaranth is called bayam, while the Tagalogs in the Philippines call the plant alocon. In the state of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in India, it is called Chaulai and is a popular green leafy vegetable (referred to in the class of vegetable preparations called Saag). It is called Chua in Kumaun area of Uttarakhand, where it is a popular red-green vegetable. In Karnataka state in India it is used to prepare curries like Hulee, palya, Majjigay-hulee and so on. In the state of Kerala, it's called 'Cheera' and is consumed by stir-frying the leaves with spices and red chillies to make 'Cheera Thoran'. In Tamilnadu State, it is called முளைக்கீரை and is regularly consumed as a favourite dish, where the greens are steamed, and mashed, with light seasoning of salt, red chillis and cumin. It is called keerai masial (கீரை மசியல்). In Andhra Pradesh, India, this leaf is added in preparation of a popular dal called thotakura pappu తొట కూర పప్పు (Telugu). In Maharashtra, it is called as "Shravani Maath" (literally माठ grown in month of Shravan) and it is available in both red and white colour. In Orissa, it is called as "Khada saga", it is used to prepare 'Saga Bhaja', in which the leaf is fried with chillies and onions.
The root of mature amaranth is an excellent vegetable. It is white and cooked with tomatoes or tamarind gravy. It has a milky taste and is alkaline.
In China, the leaves and stems are used as a stir-fry vegetable, or in soups, and called yin choi (苋菜; pinyin: xiàncài; and variations on this transliteration in various dialects). Amaranth greens are believed to help enhance eyesight. In Vietnam, it is called rau dền and is used to make soup. There are two species popular as edible vegetable in Vietnam: dền đỏ- amaranthus tricolor and dền cơm or dền trắng- amaranthus viridis.
A traditional food plant in Africa, amaranth has the potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable landcare. In East Africa, Amaranth leaf is known in chewa as bonongwe, and in Swahili as mchicha, as terere in Kikuyu, Meru and Embu; and as telele in Kamba. In Bantu regions of Uganda it is known as doodo. It is recommended by some doctors for people having low red blood cell count. It is also known among the Kalenjin as a drought crop (chepkerta). In Lingala (spoken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of Congo), it is known as lɛngalɛnga or bítɛkutɛku. In Nigeria, it is a common vegetable and goes with all Nigerian starch dishes. It is known in Yoruba as efo tete or arowo jeja (meaning "we have money left over for fish"). In the Caribbean, the leaves are called [bhaji in Trinidad) or(callaloo in Jamaica] and stewed with onions, garlic and tomatoes, or sometimes used in a soup called pepperpot soup.
In Greece, green amaranth (Amaranthus viridis) is a popular dish and is called vlita or vleeta. It's boiled, then served with olive oil and lemon like a salad, usually alongside fried fish. Greeks stop harvesting the plant (which usually grows wild) when it starts to bloom at the end of August.
In Sri Lanka, it is called "koora thampala". Sri Lankans cook it and eat it with rice. Fiji Indians call it choraiya bhaji.
The flowers of the 'Hopi Red Dye' amaranth were used by the Hopi (a tribe in the western United States) as the source of a deep red dye. There is also a synthetic dye that has been named "amaranth" for its similarity in color to the natural amaranth pigments known as betalains. This synthetic dye is also known as Red No. 2 in North America and E123 in the European Union.
The genus also contains several well-known ornamental plants, such as Amaranthus caudatus (love-lies-bleeding), a native of India and a vigorous, hardy annual with dark purplish flowers crowded in handsome drooping spikes. Another Indian annual, A. hypochondriacus (prince's feather), has deeply veined lance-shaped leaves, purple on the under face, and deep crimson flowers densely packed on erect spikes.
Amaranths are recorded as food plants for some Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) species including the nutmeg moth and various case-bearer moths of the genus Coleophora: C. amaranthella, C. enchorda (feeds exclusively on Amaranthus), C. immortalis (feeds exclusively on Amaranthus), C. lineapulvella and C. versurella (recorded on A. spinosus).
Amaranth greens, also called Chau lai (Hindi) and Chu or Chua (Kumauni), Chinese spinach, hinn choy or yin tsoi (simplified Chinese: 苋菜; traditional Chinese: 莧菜; pinyin: xiàncài); callaloo, dhantinasoppu (Kannada); తోటకూర (Telugu); Rajgira (Marathi); முளைக் கீரை (Tamil); cheera ചീര (Malayalam); bayam (Indonesian); phak khom ผักโขม (Thai); tampala, or quelite (Oriya); Khada Saga, are a common leaf vegetable throughout the tropics and in many warm temperate regions. It is very popular in India.
Cooked amaranth leaves are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate; they are also a complementing source of other vitamins such as thiamine, niacin, and riboflavin, plus some dietary minerals including calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, copper, and manganese. Cooked amaranth grains are a complementing source of thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, and folate, and dietary minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and manganese - comparable to common grains such as wheat germ, oats and others.
Amaranth seeds contain lysine, an essential amino acid, limiting in other grains or plant sources. Most fruits and vegetables do not contain a complete set of amino acids, and thus different sources of protein must be used. Amaranth too is limiting in some essential amino acids, such as leucine and threonine. Amaranth seeds are therefore promising complement to common grains such as wheat germ, oats, corn because these common grains are abundant sources of essential amino acids found to be limited in amaranth.
Amaranth may be a promising source of protein to those who are gluten sensitive, because unlike the protein found in grains such as wheat and rye, its protein does not contain gluten. According to a 2007 report, amaranth compares well in nutrient content with gluten-free vegetarian options such as buckwheat, corn, millet, wild rice, oats and quinoa.
Several studies have shown that like oats, amaranth seed or oil may be of benefit for those with hypertension and cardiovascular disease; regular consumption reduces blood pressure and cholesterol levels, while improving antioxidant status and some immune parameters. While the active ingredient in oats appears to be water-soluble fiber, amaranth appears to lower cholesterol via its content of plant stanols and squalene.
Amaranth remains an active area of scientific research for both human nutritional needs and foraging applications. Over 100 scientific studies suggest a somewhat conflicting picture on possible anti-nutritional and toxic factors in amaranth, more so in some particular strains of amaranth. Lehmann, in a review article, identifies some of these reported anti-nutritional factors in amaranth to be phenolics, saponins, tannins, phytic acid, oxalates, protease inhibitors, nitrates, polyphenols and phytohemagglutinins. Of these, oxalates and nitrates are of more concern when amaranth grain is used in foraging applications. Some studies suggest thermal processing of amaranth, particularly in moist environment, prior to its preparation in food and human consumption may be a promising way to reduce the adverse effects of amaranth's anti-nutritional and toxic factors.
As a weed
Not all amaranth plants are cultivated. Most of the species from Amaranthus are summer annual weeds and are commonly referred to as pigweeds. These species have an extended period of germination, rapid growth, and high rates of seed production, and have been causing problems for farmers since the mid-1990s. This is partially due to the reduction in tillage, reduction in herbicidal use and the evolution of herbicidal resistance in several species where herbicides have been applied more often. The following 9 species of Amaranthus are considered invasive and noxious weeds in the U.S and Canada: A. albus, A. blitoides, A. hybridus, A. palmeri, A. powellii, A. retroflexus, A. spinosus, A. tuberculatus, and A. viridis.
A new herbicide-resistant strain of Amaranthus palmeri or Palmer amaranth has appeared; it is Glyphosate-resistant and so cannot be killed by the widely used Roundup herbicide. Also, this plant can survive in tough conditions. This could be of particular concern to cotton farmers using Roundup Ready cotton. The species Amaranthus palmeri (Palmer amaranth) causes the greatest reduction in soybean yields and has the potential to reduce yields by 17-68% in field experiments. Palmer amaranth is among the “top five most troublesome weeds” in the southeast and has already evolved resistances to dinitroanilines and acetolactate synthase inhibitors. This makes the proper identification of Amaranthus species at the seedling stage essential for agriculturalists. Proper weed control needs to be applied before the species successfully colonizes in the crop field and causes significant yield reductions.
Pigweed can be a beneficial weed, as well as a companion plant, serving as a trap for leaf miners and some other pests, as well as sheltering ground beetles (which prey upon insect pests) and breaking up hard soil for more delicate neighboring plants.
Myth, legend and poetry
The word amaranth comes from the Greek word amarantos, meaning "unwithering". The word was applied to amaranth because it did not soon fade and so symbolized immortality. "Amarant" is a more correct, albeit archaic form, chiefly used in poetry. The current spelling, amaranth, seems to have come from folk etymology that assumed the final syllable derived from the Greek word anthos ("flower"), common in botanical names.
Aesop's Fables (6th century BC) compares the rose to the amaranth to illustrate the difference in fleeting and everlasting beauty:
- A Rose and an Amaranth blossomed side by side in a garden,
- and the Amaranth said to her neighbour,
- "How I envy you your beauty and your sweet scent!
- No wonder you are such a universal favourite."
- But the Rose replied with a shade of sadness in her voice,
- "Ah, my dear friend, I bloom but for a time:
- my petals soon wither and fall, and then I die.
- But your flowers never fade, even if they are cut;
- for they are everlasting."
Or in story form:
- An amaranth planted in a garden near a Rose-Tree, thus addressed it: "What a lovely flower is the Rose, a favorite alike with Gods and with men. I envy you your beauty and your perfume." The Rose replied, "I indeed, dear Amaranth, flourish but for a brief season! If no cruel hand pluck me from my stem, yet I must perish by an early doom. But thou art immortal and dost never fade, but bloomest for ever in renewed youth."
- "Immortal amarant, a flower which once
- In paradise, fast by the tree of life,
- Began to bloom; but soon for man's offence
- To heaven removed, where first it grew, there grows,
- And flowers aloft, shading the fount of life,
- And where the river of bliss through midst of heaven
- Rolls o'er elysian flowers her amber stream:
- With these that never fade the spirits elect
- Bind their resplendent locks."
- Yet well I ken the banks where Amaranths blow,
- Have traced the fount whence streams of nectar flow.
- Bloom, O ye Amaranths! bloom for whom ye may,
- For me ye bloom not! Glide, rich streams, away!
There are no fields of amaranth on this side of the grave: there are no voices, O Rhodopè, that are not soon mute, however tuneful: there is no name, with whatever emphasis of passionate love repeated, of which the echo is not faint at last.
Joachim du Bellay mentioned the herb in his "A Vow To Heavenly Venus," ca. 1500.
- We that with like hearts love, we lovers twain,
- New wedded in the village by thy fane,
- Lady of all chaste love, to thee it is
- We bring these amaranths, these white lilies,
- A sign, and sacrifice; may Love, we pray,
- Like amaranthine flowers, feel no decay;
- Like these cool lilies may our loves remain,
- Perfect and pure, and know not any stain;
- And be our hearts, from this thy holy hour,
- Bound each to each, like flower to wedded flower.
In ancient Greece, the amaranth (also called chrysanthemum and helichrysum) was sacred to Ephesian Artemis. It was supposed to have special healing properties, and, as a symbol of immortality, was used to decorate images of the gods and tombs. In legend, Amarynthus (a form of Amarantus) was a hunter of Artemis and king of Euboea; in a village of Amarynthus, of which he was the eponymous hero, there was a famous temple of Artemis Amarynthia or Amarysia (Strabo x. 448; Pausan. i. 31, p. 5). It was also widely used by the Chinese for its healing chemicals, curing illnesses such as infections, rashes, and migraines. The "Amarantos" is the name of a several-century-old popular Greek folk song:
- Look at the amaranth:
- on tall mountains it grows,
- on the very stones and rocks
- and places inaccessible.
Southern Kerala-style traditional Thoran made with Cheera (Amaranth) leaves
Example from Chilpancingo
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- ^ a b c Bensch et al. (2003). Interference of redroot pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus), Palmer amaranth (A. palmeri), and common waterhemp (A. rudis) in soybean. Weed Science 51: 37-43.
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- ^ Herbicide Resistant Weeds Causing Problems for US Cotton Growers
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Cereals and pseudocereals
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Amaranth — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda «Amaranth» Sencillo de Nightwish del álbum Dark Passion Play Lado B While Your Lips Are Still Red Publicación 22 de agosto de 2007 … Wikipedia Español
Amaranth — «Amaranth» Сингл Nightwish из альбома Dark Passion Play Выпущен … Википедия
Amaranth — oder auch Amarant bezeichnet: ein hirseähnliches Lebensmittel und Pflanzengattung in der Familie der Fuchsschwanzgewächse, siehe Amarant (Pflanzengattung) die Farbe Amarant, siehe Amarant (Farbe) die rote Lebensmittelfarbe E 123, siehe Amaranth… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Amaranth — Single par Nightwish extrait de l’album Dark Passion Play Sortie 24 août 2007 Enregistrement Los Angeles, USA Durée 3 min 50 s Genre … Wikipédia en Français
Amaranth — Am a*ranth, n. [L. amarantus, Gr. ?, unfading, amaranth; a priv. + ? to quench, cause to wither, fr. a root meaning to die, akin to E. mortal; so called because its flowers do not soon wither: cf. F. amarante. The spelling with th seems to be due … The Collaborative International Dictionary of English
Amaranth — Amaranth, nach Linné zur 21. Klasse monoecia rangirt, auch unter dem Namen Tausendschön und Fuchsschwanz bekannt, könnte als eine Art unverwelklicher Blumen betrachtet werden, indem sie abgeschnitten und getrocknet ihre lebendige Farbe beibehält … Damen Conversations Lexikon
amaranth — [am′ə ranth΄] n. [< ModL < L amarantus < Gr amarantos, unfading < a , not + marainein, to die away: for IE base see MORTAL] 1. any of a genus (Amaranthus) of plants of the amaranth family: some species, as the love lies bleeding, have … English World dictionary
amaranth — (n.) 1610s, from Fr. amarante, from L. amarantus, from Gk. amarantos, name of an unfading flower, lit. everlasting, from a not + stem of marainein die away, waste away, quench, extinguish, from PIE *mer to rub away, harm (see NIGHTMARE (Cf.… … Etymology dictionary
Amaranth — burnotis statusas T sritis vardynas apibrėžtis Burnotinių (Amaranthaceae) šeimos augalų gentis (Amaranthus). atitikmenys: lot. Amaranthus angl. amaranth; lovelies bleeding; pigweed vok. Amaranth; Fuchsschwanz rus. амарант; амарантус; щирица lenk … Dekoratyvinių augalų vardynas
amaranth — burnotis statusas T sritis vardynas apibrėžtis Burnotinių (Amaranthaceae) šeimos augalų gentis (Amaranthus). atitikmenys: lot. Amaranthus angl. amaranth; lovelies bleeding; pigweed vok. Amaranth; Fuchsschwanz rus. амарант; амарантус; щирица lenk … Dekoratyvinių augalų vardynas