Carnegiea gigantea, Giant Saguaro

Southwest Desert Flora

Home to the plants of the Sonoran, Chihuahuan and Mojave Deserts

Cirsium ochrocentrum, Yellowspine Thistle

Amaranthus blitoides, Mat Amaranth

Mat Amaranth has small male and female flowers (monecious) from leaf axils. Note the yellow-tipped stamens on the male flowers in the photo. Amaranthus blitoidesMat Amaranth has small male and female flowers (monecious) from leaf axils. Note here in the photo that the female flowers are lacking the yellow-tipped stamens shown in the photo above. Amaranthus blitoidesMat Amaranth is common across North America. It is often considered a weed and has several other common names including Prostrate Amaranth, Matweed Amaranth, Matweed, Procumbent Pigweed, Prostrate Amaranth, Amaranthus blitoidesMat Amaranth blooms from July to September across most of North America. The plants set fruit shortly after blooming as have some of the flowers in the photo. The fruits look like flat bladders. Amaranthus blitoidesMat Amaranth is a summer annual that grows close to the ground. The stems are variable in color from whitish-green to occasionally purplish to pale red. Plants are smooth without hairs. Amaranthus blitoides

Scientific Name: Amaranthus blitoides
Common Name: Mat Amaranth

Also Called: Matweed Amaranth, Matweed, Procumbent Pigweed, Prostrate Amaranth

Family: Amaranthaceae, Pigweed Family

Synonyms: (Amaranthus graecizans)

Status: Introduced; Amaranthus blitoides, originally was likely native to central and paossibly eastern United States. Now it is common and widely naturalized almost everywhere in temperate North America and in South America and Eurasia.

Duration: Annual, Summer.

Size: 6 to 24 inches (15 - 60 cm) or more.

Growth Form: Forb/herb; stems commonly prostrate or procumbent, stems variable from whitish-green to occasionally purplish to pale red; glabrous, mat forming.

Leaves: Green, shiny, pale green to dark green; alternate, up to 2 inches (5.08 cm) long, leaf shape variable obovate to spoon-shaped, wedge-shaped with pointed tips (acute.

Flower Color: Greenish, small flowers in clusters (glomerate) in axils from leafy-bracts; both male and female flowers (monecious); fruit a bladder-like capsule known as an utricle containing one black seed.

Flowering Season: July to September across North America.

Elevation: 1,000 to 8,000 feet (304 - 2400 m).

Habitat Preferences: Common roadside weed, disturbed areas, agricultural fields, sandy soils.

Recorded Range: Widely distributed across North America.

North America & US County Distribution Map for Amaranthus blitoides.

U.S. Weed Information: In North America Amaranthus blitoides has the following authoritative sources: N'East, Weeds of the Northeast; NE&GP, Weeds of Nebraska and the Great Plains, Weeds of the United States and Canada, Weeds of the West. 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 information available.
Threatened/Endangered Information: No information available.

Wetland Indicator: In North America Amaranthus blitoides species has the following wetland designations: Alaska, UPL; Arid West, FACU; Atlantic and Gulf Coastal Plain, FAC; Eastern Mountains and Piedmont, FAC; Great Plains, FAC; Midwest, FACU; Northcentral & Northeast, FACU Western Mountains, Valleys, and Coast, FAC.
UPL = Obligate Upland, almost never occur in wetlands
FACU = Facultative Upland, usually occur in non-wetlands, but may occur in wetlands
FAC = Facultative, occur in wetlands and non-wetlands.

Genus Information: In North America there are 49 species and 49 accepted taxa overall for Amaranthus. Worldwide, The Plant List includes 105 accepted species names and a further 210 scientific names of infraspecific rank for the genus Amaranthus. The genus Amaranthus was published by Carl Linnaeus in 1753.

In the Southwestern United States: Arizona has 19 species of genus, California has 18 species, Nevada has 9 species, New Mexico has 19 species, Texas has 26 species, Utah has 12 species. All data approximate and subject to revision.

Comments: Amaranthus blitoides is a common weed found in a variety of areas from roadsides to agricultural fields. An easy field identification among other Amaranths is its prostrate habitat. Another similar looking species is Prostrate Pigweed, Amaranthus albus which is a bushy erect form and whose leaves may have creases or wrinkles along the margins. It may be rarely confused with Purslane, Portulaca oleracea which is also a prostrate weedy species however their leaves are not sharply pointed at the tips.

According to Plants For A Future, the plants are rich in vitamins and minerals and the leaves are a substitute for spinach and eaten raw or cooked.

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

In Southwest Desert Flora also see: Fringed Amaranth, Amaranthus fimbriatus, Carelessweed, Amaranthus palmeri and Prostrate Pigweed, Amaranthus albus.

Importance to Wildlife, Birds and Livestock
No information available.

Special Value to Native Bees, Butterflies and Insects
No information available.

The genus Amaranthus from the Greek word marantos meaning "unfading" which is a reference to the long-lasing flowers. The genus Amaranthus was published by Carl Linnaeus in 1753.
The species epithet ""blitoides" resembling "blitum" and old name for strawberry blite which is a course weed with a red fruit.

Amaranthus blitoides is used for a multitude of purposes by United States indigenous peoples.
  • Acoma Food, Dried Food. Young plants boiled and dried for winter use and seeds ground into meal.
  • Apache, White Mountain Food. Seeds used for food.
  • Hopi Food, Porridge. Cooked and eaten as greens, ground seeds used to make mush and seeds eaten for food.
  • Laguna Food, Dried Food. Young plants boiled and dried for winter use, seeds ground into meal.
  • Montana Indian Food, Unspecified. Seeds formerly used as articles of the diet and also used as a potherb.
  • Navajo Food, Forage. Plant used as sheep forage, seeds ground into meal and made into stiff porridge or mixed with goat's milk and made into gruel, boiled and eaten like spinach, boiled and fried in lard or canned.
  • Tewa Food, Several uses. Boiled or fried and used for food.
  • Zuni Food, Bread & Cake. Seeds originally eaten raw, but later ground with black corn meal, made into balls and eaten.

  • See complete listing of ethno-botanical uses at Native American Ethnobotany, University of Michigan, Dearborn.

    Date Profile Completed: 12/27/2019
    Kearney, Thomas H., Peebles, Robert H., 1960, Arizona Flora, as Amaranthus graecizans; University of California Press, Berkley and Los Angeles, California.
    U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service on-line database and USGS ITIS search - (accessed 12/27/2019)
    The Plant List (2013). Version 1.1. Published on the Internet; (accessed 12/27/2019).
    Sergei L. Mosyakin & Kenneth R. Robertson, FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 4 | FNA Vol. 4 Page 414, 428, 434; Amaranthaceae | Amaranthus; 37. Amaranthus blitoides; Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts. 12: 273. 1877. Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 16+ vols. New York and Oxford.
    Mihai Costea 2012, Amaranthus blitoides, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on December 27, 2019.
    James Henrickson; Jepson Online Interchange, eFlora Treatment; Original site (no longer maintained) (accessed 12/27/2019),294,297
    'Amaranthus blitoides', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 11 September 2019, 16:07 UTC, [accessed 27 December 2019]
    Plants For A Future, (accessed 12/27/2019).
    ETYMOLOGY: Michael L. Charters; California Plant Names: Latin and Greek Meanings and Derivations; A Dictionary of Botanical and Biographical Etymology; (accessed 12/27/2019)