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Video: Amaranth - Beauty And Benefit
The unfading amaranth will find its place in flower beds and balconies
There are plants that have long been familiar to our eyes, but how sometimes we know little about their true essence and possible role in our life. One of them is a variegated amaranth, also known as an ancient squid, cockscomb, tailed, paniculate, sad, velvet.
Amaranthus means "unfading" in Greek. The Greeks considered it a symbol of immortality for its ability to keep its beauty unchanged for a long time. Amaranth, according to ancient myths, is considered the flower of men, the flower of Cupid - the god of love. The son of Venus and Mars, a winged boy with golden arrows flutters in the sky on snow-white wings and strikes the hearts of gods and people with arrows that carry the fire of love … The Aztecs worshiped amaranth as a deliverer from evil spirits.
The homeland of amaranth is Central and South Asia. The new "discovery" of amaranth as the richest source of nutritional and biologically active elements took place in the 20th century. Historical sources confirm that even 8 thousand years ago Amaranth tailed and Amaranth crimson were the main food crops in Central and South America among the ancient Aztecs and Incas, as well as in Asia. The crimson dye obtained from its inflorescences was a necessary part of the pagan rites of the ancient Indians. This is what caused the prohibition by the Inquisition of the Spanish colonialists on the cultivation of amaranth.
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Valuable properties of amaranth
Now in the United States there is a special institute for the study of this extraordinary plant. The Amaranth Association was established in Europe. Due to its high nutritional value, drought resistance and simple cultivation technology, amaranth is now widely introduced into the industrial culture of tropical countries. The biological and nutritional value of amaranth was surprisingly high. Amaranth leaves contain a protein of a unique, almost ideal composition, as close as possible to mother's milk (such is the set of essential amino acids in it).
Most of all biologically active substances are contained in its seeds: carotenoids, squalene, starch and others. Squalene has the ability to saturate the cells of the body with oxygen, thereby healing and rejuvenating them. Amaranth oil, rich in squalene, smells good and has a nutty flavor. It is a valuable cosmetic product that has a positive effect on the skin, helping it retain moisture and maintain its elasticity. It is used externally and internally. The starch in amaranth seeds is in the form of very small and smooth granules, which makes it indispensable for the cosmetic industry.
It turns out that in Russia, even in the "dosernova" time, flat cakes were baked from the flour of the wild-growing beefcake. Its proteins are extraordinarily beneficial for the body, while the seeds of the ambergris do not contain the gluten inherent in our cereals. Only light seeds of these plants are used for food, although there are species and varieties with seeds that are almost black, like poppy seeds. Gluten intolerance for many people creates big problems with dietary choices. Now amaranth seeds and flour are produced in Russia, as well as valuable amaranth oil.
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Both useful and beautiful
In the front gardens, on the balconies, we have been growing amaranths with multi-colored inflorescences and brightly colored leaves for a long time and with pleasure. One large plant in a container can become the "soloist" of the balcony garden in the new season. Amaranth is a herbaceous decorative annual of the amaranth family.
It is an upright plant with juicy fragile stems, little or no branching. The leaves are large, green and colored, oblong-ovoid. Inflorescences are complex spike-shaped racemes, long and hanging downwards or short vertical ones, depending on the species and variety. The flowers are small, the perianth is simple, four-part; color from green to dark crimson, including scarlet, crimson, orange, yellow tones. The seeds are small, there are 900-1500 of them in 1 g, they remain viable for 5-6 years. They ripen well on the south side of the balcony, near the walls and just in well-lit, warm areas.
In Russia, mainly tailed amaranth (Amaranthus caudatus) with dark red hanging inflorescences and green leaves 60-100 cm high is cultivated as ornamental plants; dark amaranth (Amaranthus hypocondriacus) - the whole plant is blood-red, height 60–100 cm; there are undersized and dwarf forms and varieties of other species.
There are spectacular decorative foliage forms of amaranth tricolor (A maranthus tricolor).
Its leaves are very elegant - ruby-purple with green, blood-red, brown, dark green spotted with a plant height of up to 120 cm.
Interesting varieties of amaranth willow (Amaranthus salicifolius) with narrow wavy leaves of bronze, later purple and orange.
Amaranths are very thermophilic, they do not tolerate frost. In the Central lane and in the North-West, amaranth is grown by seedlings with sowing seeds in March - early April. Shoots appear on the 5-8th day. Flowering occurs 70-90 days after sowing and continues until frost. Planting scheme 40x40 cm or 40x60 cm.
In the southern regions, seeds are sown directly into the ground. There, amaranth bears abundant fruit, in contrast to the middle lane, where the seeds sometimes may not have time to ripen. The plant is cross-pollinated by insects and wind. Spatial isolation of plantings to maintain the purity of the variety - 200 meters. Amaranth is photophilous, requires rich, well-drained light soils, responds well to watering. For abundant flowering, young plants are fed with nitrogen fertilizers 2-3 times after 10 days (15 g of urea per 10 l of water). After planting the seedlings in a permanent place, after 10-14 days, the plants are fed until August with full complex fertilizer every 10 days. To reduce the complexity of planting care, you can fill the soil with full long-acting fertilizer in powder (1 teaspoon per plant, mixed well with the soil) - this will be enough for the entire season.
Seed harvesting is carried out when a third of the inflorescences are ripe. They are cut in dry weather in the afternoon, placed in boxes or boxes - on paper or cloth and dried under a canopy with ventilation. Then thresh and winnow from impurities.
Growing amaranths of different types and varieties in your garden or on the southern balcony, you will decorate your house and garden with large crimson or short yellow inflorescences in summer, and in winter they will revive compositions of dry plants. The shape and bright color of flowers in dry bouquets is preserved for several years.
Read The use of amaranth in cooking →