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Plant Name: Amaranthus spinosus L


Common name:    Prickly Amaranth

Marathi:                 Kaate bhaji

Hindi:                      Kanta chaulai

English:                   Spiny/ Pricky/ Thorny amaranth

Jawhar:                    Kaate maat


Interesting facts and history

Spiny Amaranth is considered as a number three weed in maize in Philippines, Ghana, Hawaii, Mexico and Thailand, whereas, number one weed in cotton crop in Thailand and USA1


Identification guide



Amaranthus spinosus is an erect, much-branched annual plant growing up to 100cm tall


It is multi branched, smooth, angled with longitudinal lines and brownish- green in colour


Leaf type is simple, discoloured and arranged alternately. The edges are without lobes. They are tapering at the base with slender petiole and bear a pair of spines up to 1cm long at the base


Unisexual, each flower has only stamen or only carpels but both types are present on each plant, straw coloured


Black, spherical in shape, 0.5 to 2 mm in size 


Long and slender with ancillary spikes


Habit / Habitat

It is a spinous herb

It has a wild growth at the roadside, near cultivable lands/ abandoned fields and waste lands. The life span is only a year or less.



It is native to tropical America and found mainly in warm regions. It is widely spread in India and an invasive species in countries like Caribbean Sea, west and south of Africa, East and South East Asia.

Sample collected: Kasatwadi, Jawhar



Edible parts

World wide use

Tender leaves

Used by tribal community in Jawhar


Non-edible parts

Toxicity: It is suspected as a poison for cattle or even for human beings, if plant is grown on nitrogen rich soil. 1

Reason:  A. spinosus could have high concentration of nitrate which could cause poisoning in cattle1. They could cause stomach cancer, blue babies and other health problems in humans, if nitrate rich leaves are consumed in high quantity and for longer duration.


Method of consumption

Jawhar tribal

  1. Traditional Recipe:

Leaves are washed and boiled, sauté in oil along with chopped onion, garlic, green chilli and a pinch of salt to taste.

  1. spinosus has a bitter taste hence rarely eaten and substituted for other vegetables



Nutritional and medicinal information


Nutritional significance

Nutritional value of dried leaves of A. spinosus per 100g

Sr. No.                  Parameters                        % Daily Value*

  1. Total Fat 0 g 2-4.5
  2. Total Carbohydrate 45-54
  3. Dietary fiber 9.8-10.4
  4. Protein 20-34.4
  5. Vitamins Amount (mg)
  6. Vitamin A40
  7. Minerals
  8. Phosphorous 333-460
  9. Calcium 1795-5333
  10. Sodium 13-37
  11. Potassium 27.9-40.8
  12. Thiamine 0.06
  13. Riboflavin 2.02
  14. Iron 13.5-152.7
  15. Niacin 7.7-8.6
  16. Ascorbic acid 503



Pharmaceutical significance

Literature review

1) A study was conducted to investigate the antitumor capacity and chemoprotective effects of Amaranthus spinosus leaves. S. Rajasekaran, et al, studied the effect of methanol extract of the leaves on different cancer cell lines such as breast, colorectal, liver and normal cell lines. It was observed that the methanol extract shows significant membrane stability and anti-inflamatory property. Hence, the study suggests that the leaves reveal a significant anti-tumour effect in cancerous cell lines.

2) Methanolic extract of A. spinosus leaves showed a significant antipyretic activity when measured by yeast induced pyrexia method at concentration of 200 and 400 mg/kg using paracetamol as standard drug.


Harvesting and preserving

Direct sow seeds once the soil temperature has reached around 70 degrees F. One gram of seed will sow 50 ft of row and an acre requires about one pound of seed.


Propagation and Storage

Season of collection:

Flowering: December to April

Fruiting: Throughout the year 

How to grow it?

  1. spinosus is a wild herb hence the dispersion of seeds could be through natural agent e.g. wind or water.

Method of storage

Prop gules: Seeds could be easily stored in a dry place to avoid fungal activity.

Edible parts: Leaves perishable and hence eaten fresh.


Other uses

Vietnamese historically used the ash of the plant as a grey cloth dye.



Kingdom:            Plantae

Division:              Spermatophyta

Sub-division:     Angiospermae

Class:                    Dicotyledonae

Sub-class:            Apetalae

Series:                  Curvembryae

Family:                 Amaranthaceae

Genus:                 Amaranthus

Species:               spinosus






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