A study done in 2010 by Jason Aloisio, demonstrated that Amaranthus plants can naturally colonize un-planted green roofs and perform well. More of this story can be read at Nature News. These results suggested that amaranths, an edible plant, may be well suited for growing in the harsh rooftop environment. Infact if you walk down your street chances are you can find some Amaranthus too!
In this image you can see my friend J Santi, an astounding musician, standing next to a street tree in Harlem that has a bunch of Amaranthus retroflexus growing around it. Clearly, this plant can grow in some tough environments. But wait, this next picture is a doozy!
This Amaranthus cruentus ‘Kearala red’ has been able to survive in a crack in the sidewalk. I’m not sure if I would eat this, seeing that the sidewalk may have many pollutants on it, but obviously this plant is resilient.
Because of the resilience of these plants, the FUSE team grew several different species of Amaranthus on the roof of the parking garage at Fordham University Rose Hill including Amaranthus cruentus ‘Kearala red’ in summer 2011. Results will be coming in soon. Keep checking back.
If you have some space in your yard or in a container on a porch, try growing Amaranthus. It needs little attention is beautiful and can produce nutritious tasty leaves that resemble spinach. Soon your yard could look like these, which I recently saw while in Brooklyn, south of Prospect Park.
The large red plant is Amaranthus Cruentus ‘Kerala red’, as are the smaller red ones in the second picture.