Amaranthus tricolor, known as edible amaranth,[3] is a species in the genus Amaranthus (family Amaranthaceae).

The ornamental plant is known as bireum in Korea;[3] tampala, tandaljo, or tandalja bhaji in India;[4] callaloo in the Caribbean; and Joseph's coat after the Biblical figure Joseph, who is said to have worn a coat of many colors. Although it is native to South America, many varieties of amaranth can be found across the world in a myriad of different climates due to it being a C4 carbon fixation plant, which allows it to convert carbon dioxide into biomass at a more efficient rate than other plants. Cultivars have striking yellow, red, and green foliage.

Amaranthus gangeticus

Amaranthus gangeticus is considered a synonym of A. tricolor,[5] but has been recognized as a separate species in the past. A. gangeticus is also known as elephant-head amaranth. It is an annual flowering plant with deep purple flowers. It can grow to 2–3 feet (0.61–0.91 m) tall. In Bangladesh, it has been used as a leafy vegetable. It may inhibit calcium retention in rice-based diets.[6]

Culinary uses

The leaves and stems may be eaten as a salad vegetable. In Africa, it is usually cooked as a leafy vegetable.[7] It is usually steamed as a side dish in both China and Japan.


In Korea, the plant is referred to as bireum (비름). Small-leaved, reddish-stalked chambireum (참비름, "true bireum") is used as a namul vegetable in Korean cuisine. Considered a san-namul (wild green) that grows abundantly in the countryside, it tends to be foraged rather than planted and harvested.[8] It has an earthy and nutty flavor, and goes well with both gochujang- and soup soy sauce-based seasonings, and bori-bap (barley rice).[8][9]

In culture

It appears on the coat of arms of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where it is called "flowers gentle".


  1. ^ "Amaranthus melancholicus". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 2013-08-14. 
  2. ^ "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species". 
  3. ^ a b English Names for Korean Native Plants (PDF). Pocheon: Korea National Arboretum. 2015. p. 349. ISBN 978-89-97450-98-5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 6 December 2016 – via Korea Forest Service. 
  4. ^ Michel H. Porcher. "Sorting Amaranthus names". 
  5. ^ "Amaranthus gangeticus L". The Plant List. 2010. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  6. ^ Larsen, T.; Thilsted, S. H.; Biswas, S. K.; Tetens, I. (2007). "The leafy vegetable amaranth (Amaranthus gangeticus) is a potent inhibitor of calcium availability and retention in rice-based diets". British Journal of Nutrition. 90 (3): 521–527. doi:10.1079/BJN2003923. PMID 13129457. 
  7. ^ Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (2004) Plant Resources of Tropical Africa 2. Vegetables. PROTA Foundation, Wageningen; Backhuys, Leiden; CTA, Wageningen.
  8. ^ a b Bburi Kitchen (20 April 2016). "10 Korean spring greens you should know". Stripes Korea. Retrieved 15 December 2016. 
  9. ^ 정, 운헌 (6 March 2013). "박정희와 비름나물" [Park Chung-hee and bireumnamul]. Kangwon Dominilbo (in Korean). Retrieved 15 December 2016. 

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