The amaranth makes for a striking presence in any garden and is a familiar sight in parks around the world. The flower with its bright red or purple color and unique tassel-like shape is a preferred choice of florists to make a bouquet more appealing.
Amaranth’s scientific name is Amaranthus and the genus of plants consists of more than 70 species. It is referred to as a cosmopolitan genus and is part of the Caryophyllales order.
It belongs to the Amaranthacae family which includes a variety of species such as ornamental plants, herbs and crops. The amaranth family also includes weeds called as pigweed and redroot.
The name amaranth is Greek in origin, stemming from “amarantos” which means unfading or undecaying. Poets in classical times often used the word to refer to a mythological flower which never withered.
Amaranth is native to North and Central America, especially Mexico but is now found on all continents except Antarctica. The plant is perennial and grows readily in warm climates, in tropical and sub-tropical regions across the world.
The flower symbolizes immortality and eternal love. It retains its vivid crimson hue and firm velvety texture even when dried, sometimes for years.
It can grow in almost all types of soils and weather and the amaranth flower meaning is toughness and survival in hostile conditions.
Amaranth Flower Meaning in Literature
John Milton has mentioned amaranth as undying in his epic Paradise Lost referring to its long-lasting color and as shading the fountain of life with its blooms.
The flower is also mentioned in Aesop’s fables to contrast between the ephemeral beauty of a rose and the everlasting one of an amaranth.
The flower has a limited palette with the primary colors being red and purple.
Red Amaranth Flower Meaning
The most popular and ubiquitous flower in the genus is Amaranthus caudatus. It is also known as love-lies-bleeding, pendant amaranth or tassel flower.
It is an ornamental plant which is instantly recognizable with its long, drooping red flower clusters. The flower has a subtle, earthy and fruity fragrance.
Love-lies-bleeding is often used in landscaping and in private gardens for a colorful floral impact such as a mass of hanging plant on walls.
The flower symbolized hopeless or intense and fervent love in Victorian times.
Purple Amaranth Flower Meaning
The flowers of Amaranthus cruentus or purple amaranth are usually thicker and stand upright unlike love-lies-bleeding. The purple amaranth is a tall plant with late blooming pinkish-purple
It is also known as Mexican grain amaranth and is one of three kinds that are cultivated for its seeds. It stood for endurance and strength in Mexico during pre-Columbian times.
The plant can reach up to 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) but most garden varieties are about 1 meter (3.28 feet) tall. The leaves are light-green, 3-4 inches (ca. 10 cm) long and oval.
Burgundy Amaranth Flower Meaning
Amaranthus hypochondriacus, better known as Prince-of-Wales feather or prince’s feather is another well-known kind, featuring dark burgundy flowers.
The flowers are a symbol of vitality, and bloom in midsummer till the onset of winter. The size of the flowers can range from a few inches long to more than 1 foot in length. Amaranth flowers are radially symmetric and made up of 3 to 5 tepals.
Interesting Facts and Characteristics of the Amaranth Flower
A hardy plant: Amaranth can withstand drought, is resistant to insects and diseases, produces large quantities of seed and thrives under all conditions.
Nutritious food: While today amaranth is mainly used as an ornamental plant, the plant was primarily cultivated for its edible seeds and leaves in the past. Farmers harvested the seeds from the plant’s tassel-like structure. The seeds are extremely nutritious, rich in proteins, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.
Multi-purpose food: The seeds are often ground and you can use the flour as a thickener in porridge, soups and stews. The seeds are also used in bread and cakes as well as to make candies. The seeds are nutty in taste while the leaves have a spinach-like flavor.
Pre-Columbian history: The plant’s use as a food crop goes back to more than 6,000 years. It was an important source of food for pre-Columbian civilizations such as the Aztec and Inca.
The Aztec referred to the plant as “huauhtli” and it featured prominently in their religious ceremonies and festivals. The plant’s use as a food crop was disrupted after the conquistadors prevented its cultivation in their efforts to supplant the indigenous culture with Christianity.
Suitability as a food source: Foods containing amaranth seeds or flour are quite nutritious and ideal for consumption by all except people with kidney ailments.
Medicinal herb: The plant is known for its medicinal properties and is sometimes used as a herb to provide relief from dysentery and ulcers. It is also known to alleviate symptoms of sore throat, inflammation in the mouth and to reduce cholesterol.
Maintaining the natural look: If you want to preserve the fresh look of amaranth, sprinkle the flowers with water containing bleach. After a couple of days, hang the flowers upside down to dry. The color will last for several months.
Growing amaranths: You can directly plant the seeds in the garden preferably early in summer. The plant can also be grown indoors in pots and is favored by interior decorators to add a touch of greenery and color to any room.
Amaranth grows well in average or poor soil without requiring any fertilizer and needs watering only once a week, even in summer.
Cleansing agent: The plant has a unique capability to remove lead from the soil and can be potentially used to clean up polluted soil.
The Best Time to Gift Someone Amaranth Flowers
The flower with its brilliant and enduring red color is an ideal gift for lovers to convey to each other the long-lasting nature of their relationship.
You can gift it to your partner with whom you have been together for several years as well as to newly-married couples, wishing them several years of holy matrimony.
The purple amaranth is considered as a herald of good fortune and can be gifted to someone whom you want to wish luck in life.
A bouquet of amaranth flowers is can be given generally to anybody to whom you want to express feelings of admiration, friendship and affection.
Amaranth can be used in any floral arrangement and is a good fit for all happy events. It can sometimes be a part of somber occasions and is used in making wreaths. The flowers can be included in bouquets, crowns, tiaras and garlands.