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Spiny amaranth, Amaranthus spinosus


Erect annual with a smooth, branched reddish stems, usually 1 to 3 feet tall, but occasionally up to 6 feet tall.  Stems have a pair of ¼ to ½ inch long sharp spines in the axil of each leaf.  Leaves are alternate with long stalks.  Leaf blades usually 1 ½ to 4 inches long, usually egg-shaped to oval.  Leaf tip somewhat pointed, often with a small bristle.  Flowers green, in dense clusters in the leaf axils or at tips of stems.  Flower clusters at the tip usually nodding, spikes usually 5/16 inch or more wide.  Male and female flowers separate but mixed in the clusters.  Seed covers are smooth; seed are flattened, circular, with smooth covers, and very small.  Reproduction is by seed.  Spiny amaranth is common in cultivated areas.