Amaranth, the name of a family, as well as a genus, of plants found throughout the world except in polar regions. The family contains about 60 genera and 600 species of herbs, the majority of which grow as weeds. The individual flowers are usually small, but they often grow in dense, showy clusters. The amaranth family is often divided into two groups: the grain amaranths, most common in North and South America; and the vegetable amaranths, commonly grown in parts of Africa, Asia, and Central and South America. The seeds of grain amaranths can be popped like corn or they can be ground into flour and used to make breads, crackers, and cereals. Vegetable amaranths, such as tampala, are grown for their nutritious green leaves. Other members of the family, such as cockscomb, are grown as ornamentals. Several species, including the globe amaranth, are popular everlastings (plants whose flowers retain their color when dry).
The amaranth genus consists of about 50 species of annual herbs. Garden amaranths grown for their colorful foliage and attractive flower clusters include love-lies-bleeding (or tassel flower), prince's-feather, and Joseph's coat. Some species of pigweeds and tumbleweeds are of the amaranth genus.
Love-lies-bleeding is Amaranthus caudatus; prince's-feather, A. hypochondriacus; Joseph's coat, A. gangeticus. Tampala is A. tricolor. The globe amaranth is Gomphrena globosa. All belong to the amaranth family, Amaranthaceae.Ornamental amaranths have handsome, drooping spikes.