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AMARANTHUS hypochondriacus

Image of Amaranthus hypochondriacus

James H. Schutte



Botanical Name

AMARANTHUS hypochondriacus

Plant Common Name

Prince's Feather, Prince-of-Wales-Feather

General Description

This large, colorful annual is probably a naturally occurring hybrid originating in Central Amercica. It has been grown since ancient times for its grain and greens, as have two other amaranths: Amaranthus cruentus and A. caudatus. This amaranth was widely cultivated and revered by the Aztecs, playing a central role in their diet and in many of their religious rituals. Most contemporary gardeners cultivate it purely for its showy flower spikes, although it is increasingly grown as a grain and food crop in China, India, the United States, and other areas.

This fast-growing plant bears purplish red or green, broadly lance-shaped leaves on tall upright stems. Young leaves can be prepared and eaten like spinach. Upright spikes of tiny red, mahogany, or greenish flowers appear at the stem tips and in the leaf axils in summer and fall. They work wonderfully in fresh or dried flower arrangements. Plants are monoecious, with both male and female flowers. Female flowers produce round, poppy-sized seeds, as many as 100,000 per plant. The ivory, white, mahogany, or black seeds are rich in proteins and essential amino acids. Fallen seed germinates in spring, making purchase of additional seed unnecessary.

Amaranths like it hot and perform best in full sun and average to poor, well-drained soil. A single plant will produce lots of volunteer seedlings. Just weed out the ones you don’t want. This ornamental is best sown in place in warm soil, but can also be started earlier in a warm greenhouse. Mature plants are drought tolerant but grow and flower better if watered during dry spells. This annual thrives in subtropical and tropical regions.

The amaranth seeds should be harvested when they fall easily from the dried flower heads. Use a sifter to separate the seed from the chaff. Store the seed in sealed containers in a cool dry place.

Amarnathus hypochondriacus has become naturalized in subtropical and tropical regions across the world and is considered invasive in some locations.


  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 1

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, H2, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type


  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    16"-72" / 40.6cm - 182.9cm

  • Width

    1'-2' / 0.3m - 0.6m

  • Bloom Time

    Summer, Late Summer, Early Fall, Fall

  • Native To

    Central America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam, Sand

  • Tolerances


  • Growth Rate


  • Water Requirements

    Drought Tolerant, Average Water

  • Habit


  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest


  • Flower Color

    Red, Green, Purple, Dark Red

  • Fruit Color

    White, Pink, Brown, Ivory

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Red, Green, Purple

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Red, Green, Purple

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Red, Green, Purple

  • Fragrant Flowers


  • Fragrant Fruit


  • Fragrant Foliage


  • Bark or Stem Fragrant


  • Flower Petal Number


  • Repeat Bloomer


  • Showy Fruit


  • Edible Fruit


  • Showy Foliage


  • Foliage Texture


  • Foliage Sheen


  • Evergreen


  • Showy Bark


Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Dried Flower / Everlasting, Bedding Plant, Container, Cutflower, Dried Flower/Everlasting, Edible, Feature Plant, Herb / Vegetable, Mixed Border, Tropical, Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns


  • Invasive


  • Attracts


  • Self-Sowing