Love-lies-bleeding, Tassel Flower, Grain Amaranth (Amaranthus caudatus), a pseudocereal food crop, favoured ornamental of Victorian England, and rare infestation of historical and contemporary Victoria.
Domesticated in the Andes as an apparent hybrid of other wild and cultivated Amaranths, A. caudatus has been recorded as an escapee, agricultural weed and environmental weed on an infrequent but recurring basis throughout the tropical and sub-tropical world as well as temperate Europe and North America. An annual species bred for the conditions of cultivation, this plant is dependent on yearly reproductive success and the uninterrupted maintenance of favourable soil and management conditions in order to establish circumstances for its local naturalisation.
Advertised for sale in Melbourne since at least 1860, but requiring rich soils, the plant has only been officially recorded in Victoria under naturalised circumstances a handful of times. In other states, where the plant has been recorded more frequently, it is a weed of old gardens, footpaths, tip sites and stream beds. As it is an highly visible plant that produces reasonably large and poorly transported seed, its real establishment here as a weed of consequence has apparently so far been precluded. Nevertheless, as these photographs from a pair of front fences in Fitzroy North demonstrate, the plant is present here, occasionally making its own striking appearances from Melbourne’s stony substrate.