Central Virginia Organic Gardener

"And 'tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes." - William Wordsworth, 1798

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Hopi Red Dye Amaranth

I grow plants for beauty, for consumption and for art.  I am a botanical artist, and I like to draw unusual subjects.  I planted Hopi red dye amaranth a few years ago and the plant has been busily reseeding in my garden (easy to pull out, though, if it is in an inconvenient place).  This plant can be very large, up to 4 feet tall.  The leaves are greenish-burgundy, with reddish flower stalks (made up of thousands of flowers). The Hopi people used its seeds as a food dye, mainly to make cornbread pink in color.  Amaranths are a large family of plants, and their seed is edible and has a good amount of protein. Leaves are nutritious, too. Garden cultivars include the well-know "Love Lies Bleeding" planted in old-fashioned flower gardens:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amaranthus_caudatus
Here is a pink cultivar:
Coral Fountain Amaranth at the Hudson Valley Seed Library in Accord, NY

I grew this plant to try to dye wool (the color is not light fast, though) and to draw.  When I draw, I start from a living subject, but then use reference photos as reminders.  Here is a reference photo:

Photo by S.R. Vrana

For more information about amaranths, go to:

Happy Gardening!  And Happy Holidays!

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