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highland fields, which may explain how it came to be adopted for cultivation. At the time of the Conquest it was cultivated over a much wider area than at present.

Description. Kaniwa is a highly variable, weedy annual that is normally between 20 and 60 cm high. It is erect or semiprostrate, highly branched at the base, with a vigorous but shallow taproot. Red, yellow, or green patches and streaks occur in the stalks and leaves, increasing in size and width towards the base of the plant.

The hermaphrodite flowers are inconspicuous, and are formed along the forks of the stem. Because at fertility the flower is closed, kaniwa is almost exclusively self-pollinating.

The numerous seeds (achenes) are approximately 1 mm in diameter (about the size of amaranth grains or half the size of quinoa grains), and have a clasping, papery covering. Most seed coats range in color from chestnut brown to black. Compared with conventional grains, the embryo is large in relation to the seed size.

Horticultural Varieties. Agronomic classifications have been devised based on plant shape and seed color. There are two “ecotypes”: an erect plant (saihua) with 3–5 basal branches and determinate growth, and a semierect type (lasta) with more than 6 basal branches and indeterminate growth. Each of these types is further classified by the black or brown color of the seed.

The erect types usually grow faster for about 70 days, at which time dry-matter production ceases and the plants flower. The semierect types continue to grow throughout the season, and eventually produce more stems and dry matter than the erect types.

Some 380 accessions have been collected and are under evaluation in Puno, Peru.

Environmental Requirements

Daylength. All genotypes tested have been daylength neutral, and kaniwa has produced seed in England. In field trials in Finland, 35 ecotypes (collected from Puno, Peru) produced mature grains at latitude 60°49'N, and 5 ecotypes matured grains at 64°41'N.10


10 Although seed production was apparently unaffected by daylength, plant growth was poor, probably because of low light intensity and weed competition. Information from J. Risi. In field trials carried out in Finland, 35 ecotypes from Puno, Peru, produced mature grains at 60°49′N, and 5 at 64°41′N. Carmen, 1984.


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