Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Amaranthus viridis
(slender amaranth)



Amaranthus viridis (slender amaranth)


  • Last modified
  • 27 March 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Amaranthus viridis
  • Preferred Common Name
  • slender amaranth
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae

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Flowering shoot, Bhutan.
TitleFlowering shoot
CaptionFlowering shoot, Bhutan.
Copyright©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
Flowering shoot, Bhutan.
Flowering shootFlowering shoot, Bhutan.©Chris Parker/Bristol, UK
Amaranthus viridis.
TitleA. viridis
CaptionAmaranthus viridis.
Amaranthus viridis.
A. viridisAmaranthus viridis.CTC/Zeneca


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Amaranthus viridis L. (1763)

Preferred Common Name

  • slender amaranth

Other Scientific Names

  • Amaranthus gracilis Poit. (1810)
  • Euxolus viridis (L.) Moq.

International Common Names

  • English: African spinach; callaloo; green amaranth; rough pigweed; wild amaranth
  • Spanish: bledo blanco (Argentina); bledo manso (Colombia); bledo verde (Colombia); caruru (Argentina); chichimeca (Argentina); citaco (Argentina)
  • French: amarante verte

Local Common Names

  • Brazil: caruru-de-mancha
  • Congo: bambo; dunda; kwelekwele; lenga-lenga; livanga; lonenge; m'bowa; mobela; mocumbe; mofoto; munana; nadily-m'puluka; porio; poto
  • Germany: Amarant, Liegender; Fuchsschwanz, Liegender
  • Japan: aobiyu; honaga-inubiyu; nagabo-biyu
  • Philippines: colites
  • Puerto Rico: lumboo

EPPO code

  • AMAVI (Amaranthus viridis)

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Caryophyllales
  •                         Family: Amaranthaceae
  •                             Genus: Amaranthus
  •                                 Species: Amaranthus viridis

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page A. viridis belongs to the tribe Amarantheae.


Top of page A. viridis is similar to other species of Amaranthus, having distinct leaf venation and long petioles.

Description (After Townsend, 1985)

An annual herbaceous plant. Stem erect or usually ascending, 6-80 (sometimes up to 100) cm tall, glabrous to pubescent, pubescent especially upwards. Leaves glabrous or pubescent on the veins of the lower surface; petioles long (up to 10 cm), occasionally longer than the blade; blade ovate to rhombic-oblong, 2-7 x 1.5-5.5 cm, base tapered to blunt, tip rounded, minutely mucronate, barely to clearly emarginate. Flowers green, unisexual, male and female intermixed, in slender axillary to terminal paniculate spikes 2-12 cm long and 2-5 mm wide, or in dense axillary clusters in the lower part of the stem. Bracts deltoid- to lanceolate-ovate, membraneous with a short awn from the green midrib. Perianth-segments 3, about 1.5 mm long. Stigmas 2-3. Capsule nearly globose 1.25-1.75 mm long, not rupturing or rupturing irregularly, surface rough. Seed 1-1.25 mm, round, slightly compressed, dark brown to black with a paler thick border.


Top of page A. viridis is cosmopolitan in all warm regions of the world. It is one of the most common weeds in the tropics, subtropics and warm temperate regions. It is listed in virtually all of the warm temperate and tropical floras of the world.

A. viridis has also been recorded from the former USSR (Vasil'chenko, 1936).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes


AfghanistanWidespreadHolm et al., 1991
BangladeshPresentHolm et al., 1991
BhutanPresentParker, 1992
CambodiaPresentHolm et al., 1991
ChinaPresentAnon., 1972; Romanowski, 1977
-Hong KongPresentHolm et al., 1991
IndiaPresentHooker, 1885
IranWidespreadHolm et al., 1991
IraqPresentHolm et al., 1991
IsraelPresentZohary, 1966
JapanPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-HonshuPresentOhwi, 1965
-KyushuPresentOhwi, 1965
-Ryukyu ArchipelagoPresentWalker, 1976
JordanWidespreadHolm et al., 1991
Korea, DPRPresentHolm et al., 1991
Korea, Republic ofPresentHolm et al., 1991
NepalPresentHolm et al., 1991
PakistanPresentSteward, 1972
PhilippinesPresentMerrill, 1912
Sri LankaPresentTownsend, 1980
TaiwanPresentLiu, 1976; Holm et al., 1991
ThailandWidespreadHolm et al., 1991
TurkeyPresentDavis, 1967
VietnamPresentHolm et al., 1991


AngolaPresentThiselton-Dyer and ed., 1913; Hauman, 1951
BeninPresentHolm et al., 1991
CongoPresentThiselton-Dyer and ed., 1913; Hauman, 1951
Côte d'IvoireWidespreadHolm et al., 1991
EgyptPresentHauman, 1951
EthiopiaPresentStroud & Parker, 1989
GhanaPresentHolm et al., 1991
GuineaPresentThiselton-Dyer and ed., 1913
KenyaPresentTownsend, 1985
MaliPresentHolm et al., 1991
MauritiusPresentHolm et al., 1991
MozambiquePresentThiselton-Dyer and ed., 1913; Hauman, 1951
NigerPresentHooker, 1849 (1966 reprint; Holm et al., 1991
NigeriaPresentThiselton-Dyer and ed., 1913
Sao Tome and PrincipePresentExell, 1944
SenegalPresentHolm et al., 1991
Sierra LeonePresent
South AfricaPresentHolm et al., 1991
SudanPresentHutchinson and Dalziel, 1927
TanzaniaPresentTownsend, 1985
-ZanzibarPresentTownsend, 1985
TogoPresentThiselton-Dyer and ed., 1913; Hutchinson and Dalziel, 1927
UgandaPresentTownsend, 1985
ZambiaPresentHolm et al., 1991
ZimbabwePresentHolm et al., 1991

North America

USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AlabamaPresentSmall, 1933
-FloridaPresentSmall, 1933
-GeorgiaPresentSmall, 1933
-HawaiiPresentHolm et al., 1991
-North CarolinaPresentRadford et al., 1983
-South CarolinaPresentRadford et al., 1983

Central America and Caribbean

Cayman IslandsPresentProcter, 1984
CubaWidespreadHolm et al., 1991
El SalvadorPresentHolm et al., 1991
HondurasPresentHolm et al., 1991
JamaicaPresentHolm et al., 1991
Lesser AntillesPresentHolm et al., 1991
PanamaPresentLorenzi, 1982
Puerto RicoPresentBritton and Wilson, 1924
United States Virgin IslandsPresentBritton and Wilson, 1924

South America

ArgentinaPresentHolm et al., 1991
BrazilWidespreadHolm et al., 1991
-BahiaPresentLorenzi, 1982
-GoiasPresentLorenzi, 1982
-MaranhaoPresentLorenzi, 1982
-Mato Grosso do SulPresentLorenzi, 1982
-Minas GeraisPresentLorenzi, 1982
-ParaPresentLorenzi, 1982
-ParaibaPresentLorenzi, 1982
-PernambucoPresentLorenzi, 1982
-PiauiPresentLorenzi, 1982
-Rio Grande do NortePresentLorenzi, 1982
-Rio Grande do SulPresentLorenzi, 1982
-Santa CatarinaPresentLorenzi, 1982
-Sao PauloPresentLorenzi, 1982
-SergipePresentLorenzi, 1982
ChilePresentHolm et al., 1991
PeruPresentHolm et al., 1991
VenezuelaPresentHolm et al., 1991


BulgariaPresent2013Petrova, 2018
SpainPresentCarretero, 1989


AustraliaWidespreadHolm et al., 1991
FijiPresentHolm et al., 1991
French PolynesiaPresentFlorence et al., 1983


Top of page A. viridis is found in virtually all disturbed habitats. It grows in heavy organic to very sandy soils, including muck soils after the water has gone down for the season.

Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page A. viridis occurs in virtually all crops, herbaceous and woody, in all but the wettest soils throughout the warmer regions of the world.

Biology and Ecology

Top of page A. viridis is an annual herb which grows from 6 to 100 cm high. It propagates by seed and flowers all year in subtropical and tropical climates. The seeds lose viability over time and this loss in viability is faster at higher temperatures (Purwanto and Poerba, 1990). However, treatment of seeds with concentrated sulphuric acid increased germination by three times, and 100% germination was obtained at 35°C (Ikenaga et al., 1975a). The time when seeds are sown affects germination; germination percentage increases and emergence time decreases with later sowing dates. Plants flowered with sowing in any month (Ikenaga et al., 1976a, b). High soil moisture (85%) delays seed germination. Flooding during the period between October and April kills the seeds (Yamamoto and Ohba, 1977). There was no change in the germination of seeds which were buried 2.5 cm below the surface and deeper for up to a year, indicating a survival technique used by this species (Horng and Leu, 1978).

A. viridis has C4 photosynthesis (Rajagopalan et al., 1993) and has been found to grow best in intermediate light intensities (Simbolon and Sutamo, 1986). It can co-exist with the equally common Amaranthus spinosus because the two species have different nutritional requirements (Ramakrishnan, 1976).

The basic chromosome number is 10 (Sammour et al., 1993). A. viridis hybridizes with A. blitum (Coons, 1981). Separate from hybridization, distinct forms of A. viridis have been discussed (Narwal, 1972), but not formalized due to the gradual progression of characteristics among the forms.

A. viridis is grown and utilized in many areas of the world as both a wild and cultivated pot herb (Uphof, 1968). The plant is rich in calcium and iron and is a good source of vitamins B and C (Morton, 1981). Due to its small seed size and use as a pot herb, A. viridis is moved, both on purpose and unwittingly, throughout the world. The seeds can survive in the digestive tract of chickens (Rodriguez et al., 1983). It is good cattle fodder, and is used medicinally and for making soap (Dalziel, 1937), but is poisonous to pigs (Salles et al., 1991).

Notes on Natural Enemies

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A. spinosus is attacked by a number of natural enemies. Most of the reports come from outside its range and are of non-specific organisms; some, however, may be sufficiently specific for potential biological control (Waterhouse, 1994; El-Aydam and Burki, 1997). A. spinosus is a host plant for tobacco mosaic virus, groundnut rosette virus, cucumber mosaic virus and root-knot nematodes (Meloidogyne spp.), which attack some commercial crops. Natural insect enemies includes the pyralid Herpetogramma bipunctalis and the curculionid Conotrachelus seniculus. In India, the bud weevil Ceutorhynchus asperulus, a pest of pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan), has been found feeding on A. spinosus (Lemmens and Bunyapraphatsara, 1999).


Top of page A. viridis is quite to very common and can be a serious weed in virtually any crop. Since it usually occurs with various other weeds, losses can not be directly attributed to A. viridis alone.

Uses List

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Human food and beverage

  • Vegetable

Detection and Inspection

Top of page It is difficult to separate A. viridis from several other species of Amaranthus. It is characterized by its few, small perianth segments and broad, rough-textured capsule. Townsend (1985) has an especially useful set of drawings comparing the perianth and capsules of most of the important weedy species.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page A. viridis is characterized by its few, small perianth segments and broad, rough-textured capsule. Among other weedy species, A. lividus has more obviously indented leaf tips and even shorter perianth segments, A. hybridus has longer, sharp-pointed perianth segments, A. dubius has a more elongated, circumscissile capsule, A. graecizans has inflorescences mainly axillary rather than terminal. A. spinosus is only slightly more robust than A. viridis but is distinguished by axillary spines about 1 cm long. Townsend (1985) has an especially useful set of drawings comparing the perianth and capsules of most of the important weedy species.

Prevention and Control

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The choice of management methods is dependent upon the extent of the weed infestation, the cost of labour, soil type, the value of the crop, and the cost and availability of herbicides. As A. viridis occurs worldwide in various cropping situations the choice of control methods will vary depending on the methods available in that particular cropping situation.

Methods that are commonly utilized to control A. viridis include pre- and post-emergence herbicides, cultivation, hand-weeding, crop rotation and fallow-land management.

Chemical Control

The triazine herbicides, atrazine, cyanazine, simazine, propazine, and metribuzin, are effective in the control of A. viridis in several cropping systems (Wang et al., 1975; Santos and Rozanski, 1979; Borse and Mahajan, 1981; Cruz and Saito, 1982; Sajjapongse and Roan, 1987; Pamplona, 1988; Singh and Tripathi, 1988; Ahmed et al., 1989; Durai, 1990; Sathyavelu et al., 1991). These cropping systems have included sugarcane, sorghum, maize and tomato. Numerous reports with other herbicides indicating some degree of control of A. viridis are oxadiazon (Leiderman and Grassi, 1972; Tucker, 1977; Malik et al., 1981; Sharman, 1993), oxyflourfen (Gilreath, 1982; Ali, 1985; Prasad et al., 1987; Sharman, 1993), oryzalin (Sharman, 1993), MCPA (Pamplona, 1988), 2,4-D (Pamplona, 1988), cinmethylin (Gilreath, 1986), DCPA (Gilreath, 1982), napropamide (Teoh et al., 1978; Cruz and de Novo, 1980; Cruz and Saito, 1982; Gilreath, 1982), prometryne (Verma and Jai-Prakash, 1977; Bhalla and Parmar, 1982), diuron (Reinhardt et al., 1981), linuron (Cheng and Wang, 1979), sulfallate (Teoh et al., 1978), chloramben (Teoh et al., 1978), nitrofen (Teoh et al., 1978), bentazone (Cheng and Wang, 1979; Santos and Cruz, 1979), pebulate (Verma and Jai-Prakash, 1977), nitralin (Teoh et al., 1978; Cruz and Grassi, 1981; Teoh et al., 1978), trifluralin (Cruz and Grassi, 1981) and EPTC (Cruz and Grassi, 1981). Non-selective herbicides such as glyphosate and paraquat control A. viridis. These herbicides have been evaluated in the following crops: onion, cauliflower, aubergine, maize, tomato, cabbage, carrot, chinese cabbage, chinese kale, okra, beans, groundnut, soyabean, rice, pineapple, coffee, citrus and container-grown forest species. The use of a herbicide and the rates of application are dependent upon the crop, time of application, availability and soil type. This list of herbicides that have been evaluated against A. viridis is not exhaustive.

As is apparent, A. viridis is readily controlled by most standard herbicides active on broad-leaved species, but it should be noted that after repeated herbicide use, some Amaranthus species have developed herbicide-resistant strains, and the possibility of this occurring in A. viridis should be borne in mind.

Cultural Control

A. viridis reduces yields due to competition (Bhalla and Parmar, 1982; Abusteit and Shehata, 1993). However, A. viridis is sensitive to puddling in rice (Harwood and Bantilan, 1974) and relatively shade-intolerant with respect to leaf area and dry matter production (Shetty et al., 1982); therefore, good crop establishment and canopy closure will effectively reduce the level of competition due to this weed. Early-season control using cultivation/hand weeding can effectively reduce A. viridis populations until canopy closure.

Hand Weeding

The application of herbicides, followed by hand weeding one or two times, effectively controls A. viridis in various crops in India. Hand removal of A. viridis is an effective means of control, depending on the availability of effective herbicides.

Biological Control

The potential for biological control of A. viridis has been investigated (Baloch et al., 1976; Napompeth, 1982). A. viridis may be a suitable candidate for biological control, based on the number of natural enemies of the plant. It can be controlled, or exhibit reduced growth, in the presence of secondary plant compounds of other crops and weeds. However, A. viridis may itself be allelopathic.


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