dry & papery bracts




pronounced: am-ah-ran-THAY-see-eye

the amaranth family


Amaranthaceae is derived from the Greek αμαραντος (amarantos), unfading, and refers to the inflorescence which in many of the member species does indeed last a long time without withering or fading. Members of the family are mostly herbs, but there are also some shrubs and small trees. The leaves can be either alternate or opposite, and are simple, without stipules, and usually entire. The flowers may be either bisexual or unisexual; they are typically very small, with persistent dry and papery bracts and bracteoles. There is also a minute perianth of 3 – 5 membranous or papery sepals. There are usually 5 stamens opposite the sepals, and these are generally united for all or part of their length. The compound pistil, usually of 2 – 3 carpels, has 1 – 3 styles and a superior ovary. The fruit is usually a utricle or a circumscissile capsule. This family now also incorporates plants previously classified under Chenopodiaceae.




Photograph © Donald Simpson 2010