Amaranth Harvest!

Yesterday Mrs. Tagwira, one of our first MPH graduates (and also wife of our Vice-Chancellor,) invited me to see her Amaranth research site. The Amaranth seed is highly nutritious, and she has been growing it at her home for several years. This year she received a research grant to grow test fields of it here. She hopes that her work will result in Amaranth being adopted widely as a crop in Zimbabwe, just as the Aztecs used it centuries ago in Central and South America. I hope her work yields great dividends because Amaranth has great promise as a wonderful source of nutrition in Africa.

Below is a picture of Mrs. Tagwira showing me her test field of Amaranth, plus pictures of harvesting a few heads of seed, and then separating seed from weeds and chaff with a screen sieve.

Field of Amaranth

Field of Amaranth

Harvesting the Seeds

Harvesting the Seeds

Separating seeds from weeds

Separating seeds from weeds



  1. Ed, I am still eating amaranth but am about out and I can’t find it to buy (tough I confess I keep forgetting to look). However, I have been growing what I call amaranthus which I assume is almost the same thing. I grow it as a flower and it reseeds itself. Do you have any idea whether if I could figure out how to harvest the seeds whether this is acceptable to eat? Your photos show a plant that looks somewhat similar to what I grow. My amaranthus crosses with some weeds, especially pig weed, which is also in the amaranth family and which I think I read once can be eaten. Cock’s comb is also part of that family. I suppose I could do research on google but I thought you might know. None of the books I have suggest that amaranth can be eaten (maybe I haven’t looked at the right books). Riley

    • HI Riley, Only three out of the 60 plus species of Amaranth have favorable seed production for eating. A number more have leaves that are edible as greens, while others are mainly ornamental. As you note, some amaranth species are weeds that can be quite a nuisance, though some can be used for greens also. The seed variletes are the most promising as a source of good nutrition.

  2. Wow, Ed, those plants are a lot bigger and healthier-looking than the amaranth/pigweek in my neighborhood! I am wondering if Mrs. Tagwira has also treated you to some of the leaves, which I found to be delicious. By the way, my organic farmer friend told me that commercial amaranth, which she sometimes grows for fun, has seeds which are much larger and easier to harvest than the roadside ones here.

    • Hi Peg, The commercial amaranth seeds may be a bit larger than the wild ones, but they’re still very small. The thing that makes an amaranth plant a good source of seeds is the very large flowering head which ends up with millions of seeds, whereas the wild ones have only a tenth as many seeds, not making them worth growing for commercial seed production. It’s nice having a friend who has amaranth. I hope she shares some of the seeds with you!

  3. Dear Joe,

    That is heartening news. It is great to she her in the pictures. I have long been interested in amaranth. One of Horizon International’s former Scientific Review Board members, Noel Vietmeyer, brought it to my attention when he was researching for the National Research Council. I checked to see what I would quickly find on Google and this came up from Wikipedia, a goo summary: You have probably seen it, however, just in case, I thought I would send it along. Also, the National Research Council has a publication you will find of interest. It includes amaranth: “*Lost Crops of Africa: Volume II: Vegetables (2006) “*

    Bob Lawrence and I had a chance to meet on Tuesday. He asked after you and sends his best!

    Warmest wishes, Janine

    On Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 8:32 AM,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.