• Amaranthus spp.
  • Carelessweed, Redroot amaranth, Water hemp, Wild beet


Brood coverFood


An upright growth habit

Most species of pigweed exhibit an upright growth habit, often growing more than 3 feet tall.

Scott Sudkamp, Missouri Department of Conservation

Sharp spines are present at the leaf axils of spiny pigweed

Several species of pigweed occur throughout the Midwest. Although pigweed is most often viewed as a useless weed, it can be an important habitat component for bobwhites and many other wildlife species, providing both food and cover. Sharp spines are present at the leaf axils of spiny pigweed, Amaranthus spinosus. Other species are spine-free. Also note flower formation at leaf axil.

Scott Sudkamp, Missouri Department of Conservation


Flowers emerge from leaf axils and the top of the plant.

Kevin Bradley, University of Missouri


Seeds are tiny, shiny, round and black. Quail and other birds readily consume them.

Steve Hurst, USDA-NRCS Plants Database



About a half dozen species of pigweed are common in the Midwest, often found in abundance in moist or disturbed areas. Leaves are alternate and simple. Small green or tan flowers produce small, round, shiny black seeds. The roots are red when pulled. Depending on the species, pigweed may grow 1 to 8 feet tall.

Bloom period

June to October

Use by bobwhites

Pigweeds produce many seeds, which despite their small size, are regularly and abundantly consumed by bobwhites. Birds have been known to grasp the stem with their bill and strip seeds directly off the plant. Pigweed seed is available after snow has buried many other quail foods. Its occurrence on disturbed ground makes it attractive for brood rearing as well.