Species name
Amaranthus graecizans1


Local name(s)
Hamle tilian (Amargna) Rasoota (Konsogna), Zabine (Hamer-Bena), Tchumatia (Wolayetgna)

General description
Amaranthus species are common annual weeds. The plant has a taproot and hairless branches. It grows up to 90cm tall. The leaves have a wavy edge and the small green flowers are in clusters in leaf axils. 

Edible part(s), preparation methods and palatability
Young leaves, stem & seeds are edible. The plant begins to grow at beginning of the main rains and the first leaves can already be harvested after 12 days. Women collect the weed and separate the young leaves that are boiled in water with salt.
The Amharic name for the species, 'Hamle tilian,' means Italian spinach. In Amhara and Tigray Regions the cooked leaves are sometimes also consumed together with 'Entate vallha' (Salvia nilotica). The small seeds of the plant can be ground and used to make 'quecha', a flat bread, or 'ga'at', 'Abyssinian porridge', by mixing the grounded seeds with other flour varieties such as teff, barley, wheat and sorghum. For 'quecha' and 'ga'at' the preparation take 1 - 2 hours. Unpleasant side effect is the hard digestion that can cause some nausea. 
In Southern Ethiopia the upper part of the plant is collected, then sun-dried and cooked. It grows abundantly during the rainy season on farm fields and is normally weeded, but in food shortage periods, farmers leave it in the field and collect its leaves. The species is considered a typical famine food because it causes diarrhea when consumed too much.

Nutritional value
The leaves of Amaranthus spp. are high in vitamin A content and furthermore, have a high protein content of 27.8%. Fresh leaves contain higher quantities of both calcium and phosphorus than cabbage.

Grows in the low- and midlands as well as on higher altitudes (900 - 2,380m) on a wide range of soils.

Propagation method(s) 
Propagates by seeds, direct sowing.

Sample location (s)
(1) Bako-Gazer, (2) Hamer-Bena Woreda (South Omo); (3) Koindo-Koyisha (North Omo), (4) Dibla Seat Kebele, Ganta Afesum Woreda (Eastern Tigray)


1 See also in Stroud A, Parker C, 1989: p. 20/21 and Maundu et al., 1999: p. 57-63.

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Amaranthusgraecizans.jpg (66319 bytes)
A. graecizans in field around Dibla Seat, Wag Hamra (Photo by Anna Barnett, Ethiopian Venture Project)

Amaranthus_graecizans1.jpg (52266 bytes)
A. graezians in Konso