Sp. Pl. 2: 990. 1753
Illustrator: Yevonn Wilson-Ramsey
Phenology: Flowering summer–fall.
Habitat: Waste places, agricultural and fallow fields, railroads, roadsides, riverbanks, other disturbed habitats
Elevation: 0-2500 m
B.C., Man., N.S., Ont., Que., Ala., Ariz., Ark., Calif., Colo., Conn., Del., D.C., Fla., Ga., Idaho, Ill., Ind., Iowa, Kans., Ky., La., Maine, Md., Mass., Mich., Minn., Miss., Mo., Mont., Nebr., Nev., N.H., N.J., N.Mex., N.Y., N.C., N.Dak., Ohio, Okla., Pa., R.I., S.C., S.Dak., Tenn., Tex., Vt., Va., Wash., W.Va., Wis., Mexico, West Indies, Central America, South America, widely introduced or naturalized in tropical, subtropical, and warm-temperate regions worldwide.
Originally a riverside pioneer in eastern North America, now Amaranthus hybridus is extremely abundant in agricultural fields and other disturbed habitats. Related cultivated species have been reported from the flora area, including A. caudatus, A. hypochondriacus, and A. cruentus; there is no evidence that they are established; specimens identified as these species are often variants of A. hybridus.
Distribution of Amaranthus hybridus in North America needs clarification because the name was misapplied to other species, notably A. powellii, and specimens of A. retroflexus, A. powellii, and A. hybridus are frequently interchangeably misidentified. Forms of A. hybridus and A. powellii with reddish inflorescences are often misidentified as escaped and hence presumably naturalized, cultivated species A. caudatus Linnaeus, A. hypochondriacus Linnaeus, and A. cruentus Linnaeus.
Amaranthus hybridus is extremely variable. In particular, there are numerous North American specimens with subobtuse tepals and thick inflorescences, suggesting hybridization with A. retroflexus. In Europe such presumably hybrid forms are known as A. ×ozanonii Thellung (A. Thellung 1914–1919).
A new, presumably hybridogenous taxon, Amaranthus ×tucsonensis Henrickson, was recently described from Arizona (J. Henrickson 1999). It was suggested that one of its parents is A. hybridus; the other parental species (probably a species with obtuse or spatulate tepals) remains unknown. The problem of proper taxonomic position and origin of A. ×tucsonensis needs further study.