May. 26, 2022

winged pigweed, Cycloloma atriplicifolia

Winged pigweed, or is it more fun to call it tumble ringwing? This is a tumbleplant that takes full advantage of the wind. It originated in our windy central plains, and has recently been taking advantage of cleared areas to spread. It's particularly going eastward in the direction of prevailing winds and interstate highways. This pigweed is wind pollinated, and has apparently found advantage to having upper flowers that are only pistillate. Here you see stamens toward the bottom, and little white pistils in the upper flowers. Late in the season these bushy plants break free and become tumbleweeds. The winged seeds can also break free and spread. Thee Apache, Navajo and Zuni people ate the seeds as flower, porridge or mush. More immaginatively, the Zuni believed this plant belonged to the grandmother of the Gods of War. She taught them to chew these flowers and eject the result on their hands. This would cause enemy arrows to go wild. This observation is from Matilda Stevenson's Ethnobotany of the Zuni Indians (1915), cited on the Native American Ethnobotany Database. Tumble ringwing now grows in every state except AK, FL, GA, HI, ME, NH, OR, RI, VT, and WA, and in MB, ON, QC, and SK. Lenawee Co MI, 8/3/14. Amaranth family, Amaranthaceae.