Family: Amaranthaceae
Common Name: Copperleaf

There are about 200 species in this genus of annuals and perennials, mainly native to tropical and warm regions of the Americas. Some species are considered weeds, some are edible and some are grown ornamentally for their colourful foliage. The flowers of many species are insignificant. The ornamental species are used in summer bedding schemes and as edging plants. Several of the perennial species are grown as annuals in cooler Climates for seasonal summer colour.


A. dentata 'Rubiginosa' is a shrubby plant, growing between 30 and 60 cm (12-24 in) high. It is valued for its striking, dark reddish purple, almost black, foliage and is most often used in bedding schemes or for strong foliage contrast. It was popular in Victorian bedding schemes and is creating interest again today.

A. ficoidea is a small-leaved perennial that grows 20-30 cm (8-12 in) high if it is left unclipped. The foliage is mid-green and the various cultivars are patterned in combinations of red, orange, yellow and purple colours. 'Amoena' is a dwarf form, which is rarely more than 5-8 cm (2-3 in) in height.

A. philoxeroides, which is known as alligator weed, is a very serious weed of waterways, especially in warm regions where its spread is extremely rapid.


Grow all species in full sun in well-drained soil enriched with organic matter. Plant out after frost. Water regularly to establish and give deep soakings during hot, dry periods. If growing these plants on poor soils, apply blood and bone or pelletted poultry manure in spring to encourage more vigorous growth. Low-growing types used as edging plants can be clipped over if they become leggy or straggly. This maintains tight, compact growth.


Zone 10 and above.

Alstroemeria      Althaea