Spiny Amaranth, Edlebur, Needle Burr, Thorny Pigweed, Calaloo, Calalu

Amaranthus spinosus

Family: Amaranthaceae
Genus: Amaranthus (am-uh-RANTH-us) (Info)
Species: spinosus (spy-NO-sus) (Info)



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


15-18 in. (38-45 cm)


Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall




Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; sow indoors before last frost

From seed; direct sow after last frost

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed

Collect seedhead/pod when flowers fade; allow to dry


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Bartow, Florida

Zephyrhills, Florida

Hinsdale, Illinois

Benton, Kentucky

Newfield, New Jersey

Granville, Ohio

Geronimo, Texas

Weyers Cave, Virginia

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Gardeners' Notes:


On Sep 24, 2013, bluetexasbonnie from Geronimo, TX wrote:

I marked as 'having' this plant, but it would be just fine by me if I didn't. This is a weed in every sense of the word -- grows everywhere, ugly, difficult to pull out, round-up-ready, tall, rangy, prickly and too seed laden to add to compost pile.

The only redeeming quality that I know of is that horses and cattle love the young plants. Unfortunately, they are too indiscriminate about where they put their feet and what else they eat to let them into the gardens. Reportedly you can add the young plants to salad. I have tasted. It doesn't taste bad -- sort of bland green flavor.

Livestock love when young, but if it grows in very dry conditions and gets large, then it has a high probability of being poisonous. A very real danger when baling maize stubbl... read more


On Nov 27, 2012, Tabacum from Mantua, OH (Zone 5a) wrote:

Grow many types of amaranths here in northern Ohio.This one appeared in with my amaranths this summer. It looked similar at beginning growth stage to the lime love lies bleeding amaranth that I grow. Found several of these mixed in with other amaranths. Waited to see what I would get if I let it mature. Decided to remove these as they were very thorny and not attractive like my other amaranths. Difficult to pull out of ground due to thorns. Wonder how they got in with my nicer amaranths?


On Jul 5, 2009, Robubba from Moulton, IA wrote:

I HATE this plant! It's the worst pain in the crotch to pull and deal with. It comes up, and doesn't stop. Constant weeding and weed whacking only lets sunlight reach young seedlings, and rebursts with new growth. A small puncture wound results in a deep splinter like pain for days. The only cool thing I could think would come out of this is if it hybridizes with my love lies bleeding. I would love to grow it even though it's invasive. I'd deal with the thorns then.

Eating this sounds interesting.


On Feb 24, 2009, Zeppy from Shenandoah Valley, VA (Zone 6b) wrote:

Sooo.... this plant loves compact soil, loose fertile soil, any soil. And it's a complete thug. Contact with its bejillion thorns is initially painful and later makes a deep ache at the tiny puncture site. My chickens won't even step near it, so they won't eat it, and it sets seedheads even when it's half an inch out of the ground, once the temp reaches over 80 or so. VERY invasive, very nasty, and its sap even has an ugly smell.

Simply: there are MUCH nicer amaranths out there that are also edible, beneficial and nutritious.


On Aug 25, 2007, Lamiaceae from Granville, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

Native to tropical regions of the New World, Amaranthus spinosus is now an introduced weed in many areas far outside its original range. It isn't as common as its relative A. hybridus here in the Midwest. A leafy, many-branched plant, often with reddish stems, and pairs of sharp spines at the stem nodes. The leaves are edible and nutritious. The seeds are probably edible like other Amaranthus, but are small and very difficult to remove from the fruit, making harvest impractical.


On Nov 12, 2003, Michaelp from Glendale, UT (Zone 5a) wrote:

This has the same uses as common Amaranth but the thorns are very sharp and leaf collecting for food or medicine should be done carefully. It is still tasty as a cooked green.