So we planted a big new garden, and I think my wife sprinkled some assorted seeds (possibly wildflower?) and now we have three huge plants growing that don't seem to either produce flowers or fruit/vegetable of any kind. The stalks are quite thick for being at most 6 weeks old and they are a purplish color. Any ideas what it could be? Should I rip it out?

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    looks like an amaranth. They have some weedy members that grow fast. – kevinsky Jun 27 '14 at 1:40
  • @kevinsky my thoughts exactly :) – J. Musser Jun 27 '14 at 1:56

I believe that's an amaranth, Amaranthus sp. I call them red root pigweed, and yours looks large and healthy.

It did produce a flower (the large 'caterpillar' at the stem apex), which means soon there will be seed, and lots of it. I would recommend getting rid of the plants asap.

If this is the first time you've encountered this plant, controlling it now will stop the chances of it becoming a noxious weed at your place (like it is at mine). If it did come in the 'assorted seeds', you may get more seedlings.

They may not pull very easily, so you might want to dig them out, to get the entire root. At least you didn't get one of the spiny species (which I also have).

It is also edible, as a green and a grain. if you are interested in eating the greens, cut the flowers off so it doesn't reseed the whole garden. You can harvest the younger, more tender leaves and prepare them like spinach.

If you want to try and save some seed for grain (not that practical with only three plants), leave the flower heads until they mature into seed-heads. Then, when the plant starts drying out, tie a paper bag on the seed head and cut the stalk. Hang in a warm, dry place until completely dry. Then you can rub/shake the seeds off the plant, into the paper bag.

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  • Isn't Amaranth a 'super food'? – stormy Jun 27 '14 at 2:09
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    @stormy Indeed. Not all 'super foods' behave though... – J. Musser Jun 27 '14 at 2:12
  • I did eat some once. It didn't make me feel that super :) – J. Musser Jun 27 '14 at 2:12
  • Ha ha...yup, it's eaten for its leaves, like salad. Is there a bird-feeder nearby? Oh your wife sprinkled seed out there? – stormy Jun 27 '14 at 2:17
  • Thank you! That is nice to know. So really it is a weed if we find it annoying, but could be used as well. @stormy, we did sprinkle a "random" seed assortment for wildflower coverage so I am assuming it came from that. – thebringking Jun 27 '14 at 17:43

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