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AMARANTHACEAE

AMARANTH FAMILY

James Henrickson

Annual to tree
Stem prostrate to erect
Leaves alternate or opposite, simple, generally entire, bract-like upward; stipules 0
Inflorescence: cymes, often arrayed ± in spikes or panicles; bracts 1–3 per flower, generally membranous-scarious, tip often short-pointed or spine-like
Flower generally small, uni- or bisexual, radial; sepals 0–5, fused at base or free, often ± scarious; petals 0; stamens 0–5, opposite sepals (staminodes sometimes alternating), filaments sometimes fused at base; ovary superior, 1-chambered, ovules 1–several, erect or pendent on ± basal stalks, styles 0–3, stigma head-like or 2–3-lobed
Fruit: utricle to circumscissile capsule
Seed lenticular to spheric, hard
Genera in family: ± 65 genera, ± 900 species: tropical, subtropical
Reference: [Robertson 1981 J Arnold Arbor 62:267–313]

AMARANTHUS

PIGWEED, AMARANTH

Annual, monoecious or dioecious
Leaves alternate; blade linear to ovate
Inflorescence: cymes in dense, spike-like clusters; bract 1, tip generally short-pointed or -spined, generally scarious; bractlets 0–2
Staminate flower: sepals 3–5, ± equal, ± as bracts; stamens (1)3–5, filaments free; staminodia 0
Pistillate flower: sepals (3–)5, ± equal, scarious except midvein, fused at base, falling with fruit; ovary compressed-ovoid, styles (2)3, stigmas slender, papillate, ovule 1, erect
Fruit circumscissile or indehiscent, smooth or inflated-wrinkled; walls membranous to spongy-hardened
Seed 1, lenticular, smooth, reddish to black
Species in genus: ± 60 species: worldwide; some potherbs, some cultivated for seed
Etymology: (Greek: unfading, from persistent bracts and sepals)
Some species (especially A. cruentus, A. powellii, A. retroflexus) hybridize complexly
Reference: [Tucker & Sauer Madroño 1958 14:252–261]

Introduced

A. deflexus L.

Plant prostrate, 1–4 dm, monoecious, ± soft-crinkled-hairy
Leaf: petiole 6–35 mm, slender; blades 5–50 mm, diamond-shaped to ovate, margins tightly and irregularly curled
Inflorescence: clusters terminal, 2–8 cm, 1.5–2.5 cm wide; bracts 1–1.4(2) mm, scarious, midrib thick
Staminate flower: sepals 2–3, 1.3–1.4 mm; stamens 2–3
Pistillate flower: sepals 2, 1.5–2.3 mm, < fruit, ± oblong, tip short-pointed to -spined
Fruit 2.5–3 mm, indehiscent, ovoid, inflated, smooth or slightly roughened, obscurely 3-veined
Seed 1–1.1 mm, smooth, red-black
Chromosomes: 2n=34
Ecology: Uncommon waif. Disturbed areas
Elevation: < 650 m.
Bioregional distribution: Central Western California, Southwestern California
Distribution outside California: native to Europe
Plants with wrinkled seeds have been called A. gracilis Desf.

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