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Overview

Comprehensive Description

Comments

Another common name for White Amaranth is Tumble Pigweed, or just Tumbleweed. In the Great Plains, this weed is often blown against fences, where it piles up; this is less common in Illinois. White Amaranth can be distinguished from Amaranth spp. (Amaranths) by its white stems and small light green leaves; the foliage has a pale appearance overall. Furthermore, the side stems often develop from the slender central stem at right angles (90°), providing this plant with a rather awkward and angular appearance. Other Amaranths have larger darker leaves and they usually produce terminal spikes of flowers. An exception is Amaranthus blitoides (Prostrate Pigweed), which produces inconspicuous axillary flowers like White Amaranth. However, Prostrate Pigweed has darker leaves and a prostrate or sprawling habit. Two other species that occur along railroads, Kochia scoparia (Kochia) and Salsola tragus (Russian Thistle), are also tumbleweeds with a similar appearance. They tend to be somewhat larger in size than White Amaranth (although not always) and their leaves are linear to lanceolate. Unlike White Amaranth, Russian Thistle is rather prickly, while Kochia has long white hairs near the flowers. They are all members of the Amaranth family.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Description

This native plant is a summer annual about ½–2½' tall and ½–3' across. Large specimens branch frequently and have a bushy appearance; they are broader toward the bottom than the top. Small specimens are more sparsely branched and have a scraggly appearance. The stems are whitish green to white and round or slightly furrowed. The alternate leaves are up to 1" long and ¼" across; rarely are they larger than this. Both the stems and the leaves are hairless, or nearly so. The side branches often develop at right angles (90°) from the central stem. Each leaf is light green, oblanceolate, and smooth or slightly undulate along the margins. Sometimes the leaves have yellowish or reddish tints. From the axil of each leaf, there develops a small cluster of inconspicuous flowers. Each flower is surrounded by 3 lanceolate bracts about 1/8" in length; each bract has an elongated tip that is stiff. Because White Amaranth is monoecious, there are pistillate (female) and staminate (male) flowers. Regardless of its gender, each flower has 3 green sepals that are lanceolate and no petals. Each pistillate flower has an ovary with 3 styles, while each staminate flower has 3 stamens. The blooming period occurs from mid-summer to early fall and lasts about 2 months. The flowers are wind-pollinated. Each pistillate flower develops a single seed that is surrounded by a wrinkled membrane (utricle). This membrane splits open around the middle to release the seed. Each small round seed is dark reddish brown to black, shiny, and somewhat flattened. The root system consists of a taproot. During the winter, this plant can break off at the base and roll around in the wind, thereby distributing the seeds. Occasionally, it forms colonies.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

White Amaranth occurs in most areas of Illinois and is occasional to locally common; it is less common in southern Illinois. Habitats include dry gravel prairies, sand prairies, cropland, abandoned fields, vacant lots, and barren areas along railroads and roads. Generally, this plant prefers dry barren areas with scant vegetation. In Illinois, it is primarily a railroad weed.
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Global Distribution

Warm temperate and tropical regions of the Old World.

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Distribution in Egypt

Nile region and oases.            

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Global Distribution

Temperate regions of the World.

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Distribution in Egypt

Nile Valley North of Nubia, Nubia, Nubian Desert Oases, Libyan Desert Oases, Mareotic Sector, North Sinai, Gebel Elba, Mountainous Southern Sinai, Nubian Desert, North Red Sea Coast, South Red Sea Coast.

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introduced; St. Pierre and Miquelon; Alta., B.C., Man., N.B., Nfld. and Labr., N.S., Ont., P.E.I., Que., Sask.; Ala., Alaska, Ariz., Ark., Calif., Colo., Conn., Del., D.C., Fla., Ga., Idaho, Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kans., Ky., La., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Mont., Nebr., Nev., N.H., N.J., N.Mex., N.Y., N.C., N.Dak., Ohio, Okla., Oreg., Pa., R.I., S.C., S.Dak., Tenn., Tex., Utah, Vt., Va., Wash., W.Va., Wis., Wyo.; Mexico; introduced and often successfully naturalized in South America, Eurasia, Africa, Australia.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Stem erect or ascending, greenish white, 30-50 cm tall, branched from base, glabrous or strigose. Petiole 3-5 mm, glabrous; leaf blade obovate or spatulate, 0.5-2 cm, glabrous, base narrowing to petiole, margin slightly undulate, apex obtuse or notched, with a mucro. Flowers in axillary clusters or short terminal spikes. Bracts and bracteoles subulate, 2-2.5 mm, slightly rigid, apex acute. Tepals ca. 1 mm, shorter than bracts, membranous; male flowers oblong, apex acuminate; female ones oblong or subulate, apex short acuminate. Stamens longer than perianth; stigmas 3. Utricles brownish black, obovate, 1.2-1.5 mm, rugose, circumscissile. Seeds black to brownish black, subglobose, ca. 1 mm in diam. Fl. Jul-Aug, fr. Sep. 2n = 32.
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Description

Plants annual, glabrous or glabrescent or viscid-pubescent. Stems usually erect, ascending proximally, rarely almost prostrate, much-branched, bushy (large plants forming tumbleweeds), 0.1-1 m. Leaves: petiole 1/2 as long as blade, or longer in young proximal leaves; blade obovate to narrowly spatulate, mostly 0.5 × 0.5-1.5 cm, early proximal leaves to 8 cm, base tapering, narrowly cuneate, margins entire, plane (or ± distinctly undulate), apex obtuse, with whitish or yellowish, subspinescent mucro. Inflorescences axillary glomerules, green, whitish green, or yellowish. Bracts of pistillate flowers subulate to linear-lanceolate, narrow, 2-3 mm, 2 times as long as tepals. Pistillate flowers: tepals 3, narrowly ovate to linear, slightly unequal, 1-1.5 mm, thin, apex acute; style branches erect; stigmas 3. Staminate flowers intermixed with pistillate; tepals 3; stamens 3. Utricles ellipsoid-ovoid, 1.5 mm, equaling or exceeding tepals, smooth proximally, coarsely rugose distally, dehiscence regularly circumscissile. Seeds dark reddish brown to black, lenticular, 0.6-1 mm diam., shiny.
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Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Amaranthus gracilentus H. W. Kung.
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Synonym

Amaranthus albus var. pubescens (Uline & W. L. Bray) Fernald; A. pubescens (Uline & W. L. Bray) Rydberg
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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

White Amaranth occurs in most areas of Illinois and is occasional to locally common; it is less common in southern Illinois. Habitats include dry gravel prairies, sand prairies, cropland, abandoned fields, vacant lots, and barren areas along railroads and roads. Generally, this plant prefers dry barren areas with scant vegetation. In Illinois, it is primarily a railroad weed.
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Weed of cultivation.

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Disturbed habitats, waste places, vacant areas, railroads, streambanks, sandy areas, roadsides, agricultural fields; 0-2200m.
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Habitat & Distribution

Roadsides, waste places, near houses. Hebei, Heilongjiang, Nei Mongol, Xinjiang [Japan, Russia; Europe, North America].
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Associations

Faunal Associations

The wind-pollinated flowers don't attract many insects. Various insects feed on the foliage of Amaranthus spp. (Amaranths), including Disonycha triangularis (Flea Beetle sp.), the caterpillars of the skipper Pholisora catullus (Common Sootywing), and the caterpillars of several moths. The seeds of Amaranths in upland areas are eaten by the Mourning Dove and various granivorous songbirds (see Bird Table) that hunt for food near the ground in open areas, particularly during the fall and winter.
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Known predators

Amaranthus albus (tumbleweed amaranth (forb/shrub)) is prey of:
Eremophila alpestris

Based on studies in:
USA: California, Cabrillo Point (Grassland)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • L. D. Harris and L. Paur, A quantitative food web analysis of a shortgrass community, Technical Report No. 154, Grassland Biome. U.S. International Biological Program (1972), from p. 17.
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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flowering/Fruiting

Flowering summer-fall.
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Life Expectancy

Annual.

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Annual.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Amaranthus albus

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Amaranthus graecizans

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Amaranthus albus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 11
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NU - Unrankable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NU - Unrankable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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Management

These species are introduced in Switzerland.
  • Aeschimann, D. & C. Heitz. 2005. Synonymie-Index der Schweizer Flora und der angrenzenden Gebiete (SISF). 2te Auflage. Documenta Floristicae Helvetiae N° 2. Genève.   http://www.crsf.ch/ External link.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

Typical growing conditions are full sun, mesic to dry locations, and a barren soil containing sand, gravel, or clay.
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Economic Uses

Uses: Vegetable/potherb

Comments: This potherb possess a fair amount of protein and is rich in vitamins A and C, as well as minerals. However, it also contains slight amounts of antinutritional factors, especially oxalates and nitrates.

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Wikipedia

Amaranthus albus

Amaranthus albus is an annual species of flowering plant. It is native to the tropical Americas but a widespread introduced species in other places, including Europe, Africa, and Australia. When it dries it forms tumbleweeds.

Common names include common tumbleweed,[1] tumble pigweed,[1] tumbleweed,[1] pigweed amaranth, prostrate pigweed, white amaranth,[1] and white pigweed.[1]

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Amaranthus graecizans

Amaranthus graecizans is an African[citation needed] species in the botanical family Amaranthaceae. It is naturalized in North America.

Common names include tumbleweed and pigweed.[1]

The edible leaves are used as a vegetable throughout Africa.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Albert Brown Lyons (1900). Plant Names, Scientific and Popular: Including in the Case of Each Plant the Correct Botanical Name in Accordance with the Reformed Nomenclature, Together with Botanical and Popular Synonyms. Detroit: Nelson, Baker & Co. p. 630.  page 27
  2. ^ Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (2004) Plant Resources of Tropical Africa 2. Vegetables. PROTA Foundation, Wageningen; Backhuys, Leiden; CTA, Wageningen.
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Notes

Comments

The name Amaranthus graecizans, which refers to a species of Old World origin, has been misapplied to both A. albus and A. blitoides in earlier North American floras and manuals. 

 Southwestern plants differing from typical Amaranthus albus in having viscid pubescence and usually distinctly crisped leaf margins may be recognized as var. pubescens; they were occasionally treated as a separate species, A. pubescens.

Amaranthus albus and A. blitoides are rather often confused in herbaria. The species are easily distinguished by their seed size and luster.

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