Amaranthus albus, Prostrate Pigweed
Scientific Name: Amaranthus albus
Common Name: Prostrate Pigweed
Also Called: Tumbleweed Pigweed, Pigweed, Pigweed Amaranth, Tumble Pigweed, Tumbleweed and White Pigweed
Family: Amaranthaceae, Pigweed Family
Synonyms: (Amaranthus albus var. pubescens, Amaranthus graecizans subsp. sylvestris, Amaranthus graecizans var. pubescens, Amaranthus pubescens)
Size: Up to 3 feet or more.
Growth Form: Forb/herb; erect, bushy, spiny, smooth whitish or yellowish stems with multiple branches, plants monecious or dioecious.
Leaves: Light green; lighter or whitish beneath, alternate, stem leaves with longer petioles than leaves on the branches, leaves linear or ovate.
Flower Color: Green, whitish-green or yellow; tiny inconspicuous flowers, flowers subtended by linear stiff bracts, flower consists of 3 sepals (no petals), inflorescence a cyme with spike-like clusters from leaf axils, wind pollinated, seeds brown or black.
Flowering Season: Summer
Elevation: 1,500 to 8,000 feet.
Habitat Preferences: Disturbed habitats, roadsides, open areas, along riparian and agricultural areas.
Recorded Range: Over most of North America including Alaska and Mexico. Throughout most of Arizona. In Canada, Prostrate Pigweed is an ephemeral introduction and not persistently naturalized. It has been introduced in South America, Eurasia, Africa and Australia.
U.S. Weed Information: Amaranthus albus is listed in: Weeds of the Northeast, Weeds of Nebraska and the Great Plains, Weeds of the United States and Canada, and Weeds of the West. Plants included here may become weedy or invasive.
Invasive/Noxious Weed Information: No data available.
Wetland Indicator: Amaranthus albus is on the USDA 2012 National Wetland Plant List as a facultative species, i.e., usually occurs in non-wetlands, but may occur in wetlands.
Threatened/Endangered Information: No data available.
Comments: Prostrate Pigweed is common in Arizona. Its seeds which are scattered about are a food source for doves, quail and other birds. The dried plant readily breaks free and is blown around or "tumbled" by the wind thus dispersing the seeds.
Species of the genus Amaranthus are generally referred to as "Pigweeds" and some people are allergic to their pollen which can cause hay fever. Prostrate Pigweed seeds are used for food or ground to make bread and cake. See other ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.