Purple Amaranth (Amaranthus hypochondriacus)

Photographed September 25.

A large and vigorous patch of these amaranths was happily blooming from sidewalk cracks and other unlikely footholds around a little rowhouse on the South Side. Closely related species of Amaranthus are notoriously hard to distinguish, and botanists disagree on the classification; Gray regards Amaranthus hypochondriacus as a form of Amaranthus hybridus. Any reader who can do a better job of identifying these plants is encouraged to do so, even begged to do so. At any rate, it is a striking flower, closely related to the garden favorite Love-Lies-Bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus). As distinguishing features of this plant, note the numerous flower stalks from leaf axils up and down the stem, the long petioles (about the length of the leaves), and the thickish inflorescences with a habit of sagging.

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