Overview

Comprehensive Description

Comments

This is a typical field weed. Prostrate Pigweed is easy to identify because of its prostrate habit and spoon-shaped leaves. Other Amaranth spp. (Pigweeds, Amaranths) in Illinois are more erect and their leaves are more lanceolate in shape. An exception is Amaranthus tuberculatus var. prostratus (Prostrate Water Hemp). This rare plant has a prostrate habit, but its leaves are lanceolate, rather than spoon-shaped, and its female flowers have fewer sepals. Prostrate Pigweed superficially resembles Portulaca oleracea (Common Purslane). However, this latter species produces small flowers with yellow petals and its leaves lack the conspicuous lateral veins that can be found on the leaves of Prostrate Pigweed. Some authorities use the scientific synonym Amaranthus graecizans for Prostrate Pigweed.
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Description

This adventive plant is a summer annual with branched stems up to 2' long; it is more or less prostrate. The rather succulent stems are rather terete, smooth, and glaucous; they vary in color from whitish green to pale red. The alternate leaves are up to 2" long and half as much across; they are dark green, glabrous, obovate (spoon-shaped), and smooth along the margins. Each leaf tapers gradually to a slender petiole. Short clusters of light green flowers develop from the axils of the leaves. Each plant is monoecious and produces separate male (staminate) and female flowers (pistillate). The male flowers have 4-5 sepals, 3 stamens, and no petals, while the female flowers have 4-5 sepals, an ovary with 3 styles, and no petals. The sepals of both kinds of flowers are about 1/8" in length or a little longer and oblong-lanceolate in shape. Underneath the flowers, are several bracts that are the same length or a little larger than the sepals. Like the sepals, the bracts are light green and oblong-lanceolate; their tips are pointed, but not spiny. The blooming period occurs from early summer into the fall; individual plants can bloom for about 1-3 months. The flowers are wind-pollinated. Each flower is replaced by a bladder-like capsule (or utricle) containing a single seed; this capsule is globoid and smooth while young. Later, it splits open around the middle to release the seed. The seeds are 1.1–1.7 mm. across; they are dark brown or black, shiny, round in circumference, and somewhat flattened. The root system consists of a stout taproot. This plant spreads by reseeding itself.
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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Prostrate Pigweed is quite common in most areas of Illinois, except the NW and SE sections of the state, where it is apparently less common or absent. Prostrate Pigweed is native to the western United States. Habitats include fields, cropland, gardens, vacant lots, construction sites, landfills, areas along railroads and roads, and waste areas. This plant prefers highly disturbed habitats with bare open ground; it is not invasive of natural habitats in Illinois.
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Distribution in Egypt

Mediterranean region and Sinai.

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Global Distribution

Naturalized from central and western north America.

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Alta., B.C., Man., Ont., 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., Mo., Mont., Nebr., Nev., N.H., N.J., N.Mex., N.Y., N.Dak., Ohio, Okla., Oreg., Pa., R.I., S.C., S.Dak., Tenn., Tex., Utah, Vt., Va., Wash., W.Va., Wis., Wyo.; introduced and often completely naturalized in South America, Eurasia, and other regions.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Stem greenish white, 15-50 cm tall, divaricately branched from base, glabrous. Leaves dense; petiole 0.5-1.5 cm; leaf blade obovate or spatulate to oblong-oblanceolate, 0.5-2.5 cm × 3-10 mm, base cuneate, margin entire, apex obtuse or acute, with a mucro. Flowers clustered at axils, shorter than petioles. Bracts and bracteoles lanceolate, ca. 3 mm, apex acute. Tepals 4(or 5), green, ovate-lanceolate to oblong-lanceolate, 1-2.5 mm, apex acuminate and pointed. Stigmas 3. Utricles ellipsoid, longer than longest perianth segment, ca. 2 mm, circumscissile. Seeds black, slightly shiny, ovoid, ca. 1.5 mm in diam. Fl. Aug-Sep, fr. Sep-Oct. 2n = 32.
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Description

Plants annual, glabrous. Stems prostrate or ascending (very rarely suberect), much-branched (usually from base), (0.1-)0.2-0.6(-1) m. Leaves: petiole ± 1/2 as long as blade; blade obovate, elliptic, or spatulate, 1-2(-4) × 0.5-1(-1.5) cm, base cuneate and tapering, margins usually entire, plane, rarely slightly undulate, apex obtuse, rounded, mucronulate. Inflorescences axillary glomerules, green. Bracts of pistillate flowers narrow, thin, 1.5-5 mm, ± equaling or slightly exceeding tepals. Pistillate flowers: tepals (3-)4-5, narrowly ovate to broadly linear, unequal or subequal, 1.5-3 mm, thin, apex acute or acuminate; style branches spreading; stigmas 3. Staminate flowers intermixed with pistillate; tepals 3(-4); stamens 3. Utricles broadly ovoid, 1.7-2.5 mm, equaling tepals, mostly smooth (slightly verrucose or rugose in dry plants), dehiscence regularly circumscissile. Seeds black, lenticular to broadly plumply lenticular, 1.3-1.6 mm diam., rather dull.
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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

Prostrate Pigweed is quite common in most areas of Illinois, except the NW and SE sections of the state, where it is apparently less common or absent. Prostrate Pigweed is native to the western United States. Habitats include fields, cropland, gardens, vacant lots, construction sites, landfills, areas along railroads and roads, and waste areas. This plant prefers highly disturbed habitats with bare open ground; it is not invasive of natural habitats in Illinois.
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Weeds of cultivated and waste ground.

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Disturbed habitats: roadsides, riverbanks, railroads, fields, waste places, sandy flats; 0-2200m.
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Habitat & Distribution

Fields, roadsides. Beijing, Liaoning, Nei Mongol [native to North America].
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Associations

Faunal Associations

Flea Beetles (Disonycha spp.), the caterpillars of the skipper Pholisora catullus (Common Sootywing), and the caterpillars of several moths feed on the foliage of Amaranthus spp. (Pigweeds, Amaranths). Among the moths, this includes Spilosoma congrua (Agreeable Tiger Moth) and Holomelina aurantiaca (Orange Holomelina). The seeds are an important food source to many granivorous songbirds and some upland gamebirds (see Bird Table for a listing of these species). The foliage of Prostrate Pigweed is eaten by rabbits, pigs, and poultry.
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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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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Amaranthus blitoides

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 blitoides

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 8
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

This plant is typically found in sunny areas where the soil is moist or mesic, loamy, and fertile. It is quite weedy. The seeds can remain viable in the ground for at least 10 years.
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Wikipedia

Amaranthus blitoides

Amaranthus blitoides, commonly called Prostrate amaranth, Matweed, or Mat amaranth, is a glabrous annual plants species. It usually grows up to 0.6 m, though it may grow up to 1 m (3 feet). It flowers in the summer to fall.

It is believed to have been a native of the central or eastern United States, but it has naturalized in almost all of temperate North America. It has also naturalized in South America and Eurasia. Some authorities list it as an invasive species.

Uses[edit]

The seeds of Amaranthus blitoides were used as a food source by a number of Native American groups.[1] Among the Zuni people, the seeds were originally eaten raw, but later ground with black corn meal, made into balls and eaten.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ UMich Ethnobotany
  2. ^ Stevenson, Matilda Coxe 1915 Ethnobotany of the Zuni Indians. SI-BAE Annual Report #30 (p. 65)
  • Everitt, J.H.; Lonard, R.L.; Little, C.R. (2007). Weeds in South Texas and Northern Mexico. Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press.  ISBN 0-89672-614-2
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Notes

Comments

The name Amaranthus graecizans often has been misapplied to both A. blitoides and A. albus in older North American floras and manuals. 

 Amaranthus blitoides was probably originally native to central and partly eastern United States, but now it is widely and successfully naturalized almost everywhere in temperate North America and in many subtropical to warm-temperate regions. It has not been reported from Mississippi or North Carolina but since it is found in all other conterminous United States it can be expected to occur in these two as well.

Varieties have been described within Amaranthus blitoides; most of them are of no taxonomic significance, being mostly ecologic forms or local morphologic variants. Among the infraspecific taxa, the most constant is var. reverchonii Uline & W. L. Bray, with narrower, more elongated leaves.

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