Singapore Government Logo

A Singapore Government Agency Website


Amaranthus tricolor L.

Family Name: Amaranthaceae
Common Name: Chinese spinach, Tampala, Joseph's coat, 苋菜, 汗菜
Full Sun: 6-8h Moderate Water Fruit & Vegetable Ornamental Foliage Annual Dry Soils / Drought Herbaceous


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Name Authority
Name Status (botanical)
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
Plant Growth Form Herbaceous Plant
Lifespan (in Singapore) Annual
Mode of Nutrition Autotrophic
Maximum Height 1.5 m


Native Distribution Tropical Asia, South-East Asia
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form Erect, annual herb up to 1.5 m tall.
Foliage Red or light to dark green leaves are elliptical to lanceolate (oval to lance-shaped) or broadly ovate (egg-shaped).
Flowers Flowers occur in rounded clusters in the leaf axils (the space between the upper surface of the leaf and the stem). A spike inflorescence occurs near the stem tip which is typically short, but sometimes longer.
Fruits Dry, dehiscent fruit is known as a capsule. It is covered by a lid-like opening and contains black, glossy seeds.
Cultivation Grows well in fertile and well-drained soil in full sun conditions. It is tolerant to drought. The plant takes about 21 days from sowing to its first harvest.
Ethnobotanical Uses Edible Plant Parts (Edible Leaves, Edible Stems)
Food (Fruit & Vegetable : The leaves are rich in minerals and consumed as a vegetable. They are eaten raw in salads or steamed. In Indonesia and Malaysia, it is one of the most popular leafy vegetables.)
Medicinal ( The plant is believed to have medicinal properties. In folk medicine, it is used against external inflammation and treatment for bladder distress. A decoction of the root is used with Cucurbita moschata to control haemorrhage following abortion. A decoction of very old plants are taken internally to improve vision and strengthen the liver.)
[Others]: Yellow and green dyes can be obtained from the whole plant.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Foliage
Plant & Rootzone Preference - Tolerance Dry Soils / Drought, Well-Drained Soils, Poor Infertile Soils, Easy to Grow
Landscape Uses General, Parks & Gardens, Flowerbed / Border, Groundcover, Container Planting
Thematic Landscaping Economic Garden

Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal

Pollination Method(s) Abiotic (Wind, Self-Pollinated)

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water
Propagation Method Seed, Stem Cutting
Seed or Spore Germination Duration From 3
Seed or Spore Germination Duration To 5
Seed or Spore Germination Duration Unit Days


Foliage Retention Evergreen
Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green, Green - Light Green, Red
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Smooth
Foliar Type Simple / Unifoliate
Foliar Arrangement Along Stem Alternate
Foliar Attachment to Stem Petiolate
Foliar Shape(s) Non-Palm Foliage (Ovate, Lanceolate, Elliptical)
Foliar Venation Pinnate / Net
Foliar Margin Entire, Entire - Wavy / Undulate
Foliar Apex - Tip Acute
Foliar Base Cuneate
Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio 4.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Dicot)

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower & Plant Sexuality 1 Unisexual Flowers
Flower & Plant Sexuality 2 Monoecious
Flower Colour(s) Pink, Purple, Red
Flower Grouping Cluster / Inflorescence
Flower Location Axillary, Terminal
Inflorescence Type Spike

Fruit, Seed and Spore

Fruit Classification Simple Fruit
Fruit Type 1 Dehiscent Dry Fruit
Fruit Type 2 Capsule
Mature Seed Colour(s) Black
Mature Seed Texture(s) Smooth, Glossy / Shiny


References Siemonsma, J.S. and Piluek, K. (Editors). 1994. Plant Resources of South-East Asia (PROSEA) No 8. Vegetables. Bogor, Indonesia: Prosea Foundation.

Image Repository



Master ID 31494
Species ID 5891
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 30 January 2021.