Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day: Celosia

This Bloom Day, I’m most taken with this stand of Celosia argentea.  The annual self-seeded all over the garden, and we transplanted a number of the babies to this spot at the southeast end of the two parallel retaining walls (see garden plan here).

Eventually, some very tall Heliconia rostrata will grow up here (you can see one leaf in the front of the photo above), but this is a nice filler until the transplanted roots really take off.

I believe my plants are a red-leafed Celosia argentea var. argentea, which is commonly know in Africa as Lagos spinach.  (Although I may have var. spicata, similar to ‘Flamingo Feathers.’)  Harvested before it flowers, the plant is an important leaf vegetable in tropical Africa and Southeast Asia.  In Nigeria, it is called soko yokoto, which means ‘make husbands fat and happy.’  In Swahili, it’s called mfungu.

To prepare it, boil (don’t steam) the leaves and tender stems for five minutes, and then drain away the cooking water (which eliminates the oxalic acid and nitrates).  It is said to taste like spinach and contains very good levels of protein, vitamins A, C, and E, calcium, and iron.

The genus Celosia is a member of the amaranth family.  The name comes from the Greek word kelos, meaning ‘burned’ — referring to the flame-shaped and colored blooms.  Most sources I looked at gave the genus’s probable origin as Africa.

To see what’s blooming in other garden bloggers’ gardens, check out May Dreams Gardens.

8 thoughts on “Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day: Celosia

  1. Thank you for giving me the name of this plant. I see it growing in Lambertville, NJ, and have wondered what it is. I’d try it in my garden but doubt it grown in heavy, often wet, clay. What are your conditions?

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