Prostrate Pigweed

Biological Name:

Amaranthus blitoides (Prostrate-Pigweed)

Natural Habitat:

Prostrate-Pigweed: This plant is native to North and South America and grows in a variety of habitats, including fields, meadows, and along roadsides.


Prostrate-Pigweed is an annual weed native to North America. It is a member of the amaranth family and is easily identified by its small pink or white flowers and prostrate growth habit. The plant has a low-growing habit and produces small oval-shaped seeds.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can you eat prostrate pigweed?
A: The leaves of pigweed are also incredibly nutritious. They’re high in vitamins A and C and folate, as well as calcium. In Jamaica, pigweed is known as callaloo and is a culinary staple.

Q: How do you prepare pigweed for eating?
A: Place the pigweed in a medium saucepan on low heat. Cover with a lid and cook for a couple of minutes until wilted. Add a tablespoon of water if you wish to help it steam. Remove from heat and drain in a colander.

Q: Do birds eat pigweed?
A: Missouri scientists have also pointed to waterfowl contributing to the continued spread of the weed as the birds eat and subsequently poop the undigested and still viable pigweed seeds far away from the point of initial consumption.

Q: Why is pigweed so difficult to control?
A: The researchers have determined a specific genetic feature, the extrachromosomal circular DNA (eccDNA) replicon, gives pigweed, or glyphosate resistant palmer amaranth, its resistance to glyphosate and makes this weed difficult to control.

Q: Should you pull pigweed?
A: If pigweeds are in the advanced reproductive stage and might drop viable seed when handled, carefully bagging plants is even more important, Farr and others say. Guy Collins, cotton Extension associate professor at North Carolina State University, also advocates hand pulling.

Q: How do I get rid of prostrate pigweed?
A: Use safe removal techniques. If you spot pigweed plants that have yet to produce mature seeds, pull them or cut them off just below the soil line. Plants with mature seeds should be bagged before being removed and destroyed. Either burn the plants or bury them under at least a foot of compost.

Q: Does pigweed come back every year?
A: Prostrate pigweed — AKA mat amaranth, prostrate amaranth or spreading pigweed — is a summer annual that acts like a perennial. Although it completes its life cycle in one growing season, it can come back year after year, seemingly resisting any attempts to eradicate it.

Q: Why do they call it pigweed?
A: Their common name, pigweed, may have comes from its use as fodder for pigs. Pigweed plants are commonly considered to be weeds by farmers and gardeners because they thrive in disturbed soils.

Q: What does pigweed tell you about your soil?
A: Redroot pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus) indicates that the soil is heavily compacted by either heavy foot traffic or just high clay content. Compaction is a sign of low aeration, meaning lower oxygen for roots, soil microbes, water logging and undeveloped root system.

Q: Does Roundup work on pigweed?
A: Pigheaded pigweed- an amaranth that can’t be killed by Roundup – Plants and Pipettes.

Q: What damage does pigweed do?
A: Gross lesions of pigweed toxicosis include widespread edema, most prominently around the kidneys, rectum and omentum. Kidneys are pale and normal to swollen in size. Histopathologic changes within the kidney include interstitial edema, scattered hemorrhages and proximal tubular degeneration and necrosis.

Q: What part of pigweed is poisonous?
A: Pigweed (Amaranthus retroflexus) is a common annual weed found throughout the United States. The weed can grow three to four feet; the flowers are green and prickly and the plant has oval shaped leaves. The pigweed’s leaves, roots and stems are toxic.

Q: Is pigweed poisonous to dogs?
A: Amaranth greens, sometimes called pigweed, are toxic for dogs because of oxalates and nitrates that are present in the vegetable. If consumed, oxalates and nitrates can cause kidney failure in dogs.

Q: What is another name for pigweed?
A: Amaranthus retroflexus is a species of flowering plant in the family Amaranthaceae with several common names, including red-root amaranth, redroot pigweed, red-rooted pigweed, common amaranth, pigweed amaranth, and common tumbleweed.

Q: What is the difference between amaranth and pigweed?
A: It is also known as Palmer pigweed. Palmer amaranth is related to other pigweeds in our region including redroot, smooth, Powell, and spiny, but unlike these other pigweeds, Palmer amaranth grows faster and is dioecious, meaning that plants are either male or female.

About the author

Samuel is a gardening professional and enthusiast who has spent over 20 years advising homeowners and farm owners on weed identification, prevention and removal. He has an undergraduate degree in plant and soil science from Michigan State University.