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Amaranthus – a traditional green leafy vegetable in Papua New Guinea

A. Quartermain, R. Toiraena, G. Kaison, S. J. Fowate
Acta horticulturae 2015 no.1102 pp. 53-60
Abelmoschus manihot, Amaranthus tricolor, Brassica rapa subsp. chinensis, Solanum nigrum, chemical analysis, color, cultivars, diet, females, genetic variation, green leafy vegetables, income, introduced species, leaves, markets, nutritive value, plant architecture, planting, seed germination, seedlings, surveys, Papua New Guinea
The Papua New Guinea University of Natural Resources and Environment is engaged in a study on selected traditional green leafy vegetables, with traditional defined as pre-colonial. These locally grown vegetables compete in the market place and in diets with a range of introduced species. Recorded information is scarce on the sources, genetic variation and nutritional values of the species prominent in local lowland markets or subsistence systems and is needed for assessment of their future roles in income generation, nutrition and the need for preservation as genetic resources. Market surveys revealed the three most common species to be aibika (Abelmoschus manihot), karakap (Solanum nigrum) and aupa (Amaranthus tricolor). Aibika is well known and studied in the Pacific and, hence, project work has been concentrated so far on aupa. The work has identified three cultivars based on stem colour. They compete well in the market with most sellers being female and themselves producers. Limited chemical analyses suggest that aupa is overall the most nutritious of the species studied. Subsequent work has considered seed germination, since aupa is not vegetatively propagated. Growth studies have shown varietal differences in branch formation but not in other growth parameters. The most recent work has compared the growth and yield of varieties planted out in the field as seedlings in comparison with the abundant and commercially grown Brassica chinensis. Differences in plant form between aupa varieties gave differences in final plant weight but the Brassica produced a greater weight of edible leaves and stem.