This flower is native to India, Brazil and Mexico.
Tradition holds that Alexander the Great returned from India to Greece with these beautiful flowers. (The later Romans were the ones who dubbed Alexander "the great").
The ancient Greeks believed that the amaranth was s symbol of immortality. Crowns were made from it and they believed that anyone wearing such a crown would gain fame and fortune. They even decorated tombs and images of gods with amaranth. For Artemis, the goddess of Ephesus, it was sacred. The Apostle Paul preached against the sale of silver idols made to Artemis while he was in Ephesus.
It had become a staple in the diets of the Aztecs by the time the Spanish came to steal their gold and then destroy their civilization. These Aztecs believed that the flower had supernatural powers.
Aztec women made a mixture of ground amaranth seeds with honey or human blood. Then they would shape the mixture into idols that were eaten in ceremonies. The Spanish saw their human sacrifices and were horrified. Many believe that the horrors inflicted by the Spanish upon the Aztecs were just as cruel and horrific.
In Napal a man's sister will make a garland of globe amaranth during Brother's Day and place it around her brothers' necks for protection. Those from dysfunctional families probably did not make these garlands for brothers. Perhaps they used poison ivy.
These flowers love heat and will bloom right through the highest summer heat. There is a legend that the plant had its origins at the gates of Hades. The writer supposes that there are no flowers at all in or around Hades.
Once a tea was made from this flower for a baby's cough or for diabetes.
The dried blooms do not lose their color nor their globe shape; this makes them ideal for dried flower arrangements.
The writer's paternal grandmother was from NE Mississippi. She was a life member of her Northern Virginia Garden Club. Being from Mississippi she would have loved to have known that the globe amaranth, Gomphrena globosa, had been chosen a Mississippi Medallion selection twice in five years. There are variations of this flower including the Purple gomphrena that won the Medallion in 2008 and the Fireworks gomphrena that was a Medallion selection winner in 2010. These two can reach a height of up to 4'.
Look for amaranth in natural food stores. Amaranth has three times the fiber as wheat and five times as much iron. Would you believe that it has twice the calcium of milk? It has.
It contains protein in high amounts and has two amino acids not normally found in grains. These are lysine and methionine.