Amaranth is one of the popular vegetables in the world. How many Amaranth species are in Indonesia? are all of them cultivars? how many wild species are existing in Indonesia? Unfortunately, the information about the diversity of Amaranth species in Indonesia is still limited.
The topic of the diversity of amaranth species in Indonesia is interesting. Firstly, Amaranth is popular in Indonesia, peoples in many provinces use them in their daily vegetable menu. Secondly, Amaranth species are abundant in Indonesia. They can easily be found everywhere. Thirdly, the nutrition content of amaranth as a vegetable is high. Fourthly, the information about the diversity of amaranth is still limited.
The word “amaranth” is originally from the Greek language which means everlasting. Center and North America is the origin for the wild amaranth or bayam in the Indonesian language. Some literature mention that the native peoples in their origin places, collect and replant the seed during the earlier farming period. Definitely, today amaranth becomes cosmopolite vegetables. We can find amaranth, everywhere in the world.
Amaranth is one of the most popular vegetable in Indonesia
In fact, today amaranth is become one of the most popular vegetables in Indonesia. In Indonesian, we have a special recipe named pecel. Pecel is an Indonesian salad. Some boiled vegetable mix with the peanut sauce. For sure, amaranth is one of the common vegetables in the pecel recipe. Amaranth is popular, because tasty and nutritious.
In general, people recognize amaranth in two big groups. Firstly is domesticated/cultivar amaranth. Secondly is wild amaranth. Some of the amaranth varieties are Maestro, Mira, and Rona. In addition, most amaranth varieties are popular as bayam cabut (harvest the whole parts). Secondly, there is a traditional cultivar, called bayam potong/petik (harvested by cutting the stems). While the rest is wild amaranths.
Fortunately, the distribution of Amaranth is wide. They can grow everywhere, both in low land and highland. But usually, wild amaranth is easy to find in the garden, backyard, paddy field, or area near habitation. So far, difficult to find them in the forest. Because of these facts, some wild amaranth becomes invasive species (Titiek Setyawati et. al., 2015).
Below is the list from the diversity of amaranth species in Indonesia,
Amaranthus tricolor (Bayam cabut)
As mentioned above, bayam cabut is the term for Amaranth which harvested the whole part. Actually, most of the commercial varieties today is bayam cabut. In addition, all varieties developed from Amaranthus tricolor. In general, only three common Amaranth are available in the market based on the leaves color. The popular varieties have green, red, and mixed red/green leaves.
Amaranthus hybridus (Bayam Potong/petik)
Amaranthus hybridus is one of the underutilized vegetables in Indonesia. Bayam Potong/petik has a bigger size than other Amaranth species. Their stems and leaves are much bigger than Bayam cabut. In some regions, farmers use the cutting method to propagate them. Talking about taste, bayam potong is more delicious than bayam cabut. It is probably caused by the bigger and ticker leaves so that the taste is crunchier. In some regions, people made the tasty chips from their leaves.
Wild amaranths (Bayam liar)
The term of wild amaranths refer to all amaranths which not cultivated. In the nature, all of them grows wild. Even some of them become invasive species. Wild amaranths in Indonesia are easy to find because they produce a lot of seeds only in one cycle. Below are some of the wild amaranths in Indonesia.
This species has many local names. Bayam duri (Indonesia); Sinai katinting, bayam kerui (Lampung); senggang cucuk (Sunda); bayam eri, bayam raja, bayam roda, bayam cikron (Jawa); tarnyak duri, tarnyak lakek (Madura); bayam kikihan, bayam siap, kerug pasih (Bali); kedawa mawau, karawa rap-rap, karawa in asu, karowa kawayo (Minahasa); sinau katinting (Makassar); podo maduri (Bugis); maijanga, ma hohoru (Halmahera Utara); baya (Ternate); loda (Tidore).
In fact, among all wild amaranths, Amaranthus spinosus is one of the most popular species in Indonesia. Amaranthus spinosus easy to recognize, it because they has thorns at their stems (base of the petiole). That is why, in Indonesia people, know it as bayam duri (thorny amaranth). This species grows wild in gardens, roadsides, and bare land. They can found from the lowlands to an altitude of 1,400 meters above sea level. Not only the distribution is wide, but they also can grow in an area with direct exposure to sunlight.
The leaves, young stems and shoots can be used as vegetables. This species also has a high nutritional content and can be used as a substitute for cultivated spinach plants. They are very rich in iron and other compounds, such as protein, minerals, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin C, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin B1, B3 and carbohydrates.
This species is included in the list of invasive plants. This is because this plant is easy to grow anywhere. And the production of seeds is quite a lot in one cycle. Amaranthus spinosus is also a weed for farmers. They can grow optimally in wet soil, as well as soil with moderate moisture content. However, this species is also drought tolerant.
Unfortunately, so far no information is available for the local name. They only call just Bayam (Setyawati et. al., 2014). Even they grows wild in the garden and the cultivation field, but people harvested as food. The distribution is wide. They can find both in the lowland or highland. The species has two varieties, green and red. But sometimes they also can mix in color. Amaranthus dubius is a herb, erect, growing from 30 – 120 cm in height.
Based on information from Indische Groenten, this species was already common in Indonesia since 1930s. Here are some local names: bayem dempo, bayem lemah, bayem itik, bayem menir, bayem sapi (Javanese); bayam hayam, bayam kotok, jemprak, senggang itik, senggang monyet (Sundanese); bayem, tarnak lakek, tarnyak lakek (maduranese).
Amaranthus blitum grow wild in the garden and cultivation area. During 1930s, people already familiar with this species. People eat it as lalab or as vegetable (mix with some spices). Everyone can collect these vegetables in their own gardens. So that the plants are rarely traded. Leaves, stems, and young shoots is the best part to use as vegetable.
In the Indische Groenten book, this species was called bayam lembut, bayam hejo in the Sundanese language. During the 1930s, the distribution was not as abundant as other species. They can be found only in lowland till 500 meters above sea level. The best place for them to grow in optimum condition is on the rich soil in the backyard. They grow erect, have darker leaves color with the small size. People use it as vegetables.
They are popular as slender amaranth. As the name implies, their stem is slender. In addition to having many branches, the trunk of Amaranthus viridis is also hairy. These hairy part are mainly around the flowers. The leaves are green and up to 10 cm long. This species is natively from southern America (Mexico, Brazil, Argentina). Nowadays become introduced in many countries including Indonesia). They become one of the invasive species according to the royal botanic garden. The leaves, young stems, young shoots, and young flowers are generally useful as vegetables.
Some Amaranth species are unclearly identified. And they also exist among the diversity of amaranth species in Indonesia. They can easily be found in the garden or cultivation area during the dry season. Physically, they are different from other wild species which already been identified. They have different sizes, colours, and growth habits. below is some of them.
- Lavernee S. Gueco et., al. 2016. Diversity in the morphology of Amaranth (Amaranthus sp.) germplasm Collection in the Philippines. Asian Journal of Agriculture and Food Sciences Volume 04 – Issue 02, April 2016
- Ochse and Bakhuizen van den Brink. 1930. Indische Groenten. Departement Landbouw, Nijverheid en Handel, Buitenzorg
- Ranjita Thapa et., al. 2018. Morphological Assessment of Cultivated and Wild Amaranth Species Diversity. Agronomy 2018, 8, 272
- Rita Andini et. al. 2013. Amaranthus genetic resources in Indonesia: morphological and protein content assessment in comparison with worldwide amaranths. Genet Resour Crop Evol (2013) 60:2115–2128
- Sumpena U. et., al. 2015. The Performance Of Five Spinach Genotypes In Berastagi. Prosiding Seminar Nasional Swasembada Pangan Politeknik Negeri Lampung 29 April 2015. p 309-312
- Titiek Setyawati et. al. 2015. A Guide Book to Invasive Alien Plant Species in Indonesia. Research, Development and Innovation Agency. Ministry of Environment and Forestry Bogor, December 2015
always love to learn from nature. Passionate on studying plants in some aspects: the DNA, Identification, propagation, and their uses