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SPECIES INFORMATION

Botanical Name Chenopodium quinoa Willdenow

Family Chenopodiaceae

Common Names

Quechua: kiuna, quinua, parca

Aymara: supha, jopa, jupha, juira, aara, ccallapi, vocali

Chibcha: suba, pasca

Mapuche: quinhua

Spanish: quínua, quínoa, quinqua, kinoa, trigrillo, trigo inca, arrocillo, arroz del Peru

Portuguese: arroz miúdo do Perú, espinafre do Perú, quinoa

English: quinoa, quinua, kinoa, sweet quinoa, white quinoa, Peruvian rice, Inca rice

French: ansérine quinoa, riz de Pérou, petit riz de Pérou, quinoa

Italian: quinua, chinua

German: Reisspinat, peruanischer Reisspinat, Reismelde, Reis-Gerwacks

Origin. Quinoa was probably domesticated in several locations—perhaps in the Bolivian, Ecuadorian, and Peruvian Andes between 3,000 and 5,000 years ago. Quinoa and potatoes apparently were the staple foods of many ancient highland societies.

Description. Quinoa is an annual, broad-leaved, dicotyledonous herb usually standing about 1–2 m high. The woody central stem carries alternate leaves, generally pubescent, powdery, smooth (rarely) to lobed; it may be either branched or unbranched, depending on variety and sowing density, and may be green, red, or purple. The branching taproot, normally 20-25 cm long, forms a dense web of rootlets that penetrate to about the same depth as the height of the plant.

The leafy flower clusters (panicles) arise predominantly from the top of the plant and also from leaf junctions (axils) on the stem. The panicles have a central axis from which a secondary axis emerges—either with flowers (amaranthiform), or bearing a tertiary axis carrying the flowers (glomeruliform). The small, clustered flowers have no petals. They are generally bisexual and self-fertilizing.19

The dry, seedlike fruit is an achene about 2 mm in diameter (250–500 seeds per g), enclosed in the dryish, persistent calyx (perigonium) that is the same color as the plant. A hard, shiny, four-layered fruit


19 Separate male and female flowers occur in a few cases. Information from J. Rea.


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