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Amaranthus tricolor - Joseph's Coat

Joseph's Coat

Common Name: Joseph's Coat[1]

Scientific Name: Amaranthus tricolor

In a 1786 list of seeds sent from Paris, Thomas Jefferson mentioned several amaranths, including the "three-colored Amaranth."[2] This popular annual is one of the most dramatic flowers in the summer display at Monticello. The pan-tropical genus is native across Asia and South America. Most species were introduced from the East Indies to Britain around 1600 and several species were common in early American gardens, including Joseph's Coat, Love-lies-bleeding, and Prince's Feather.[3] John Lawson makes reference to this plant in his book, A New Voyage to Carolina. (1709).[4]

Many are large, showy, voluptuous plants with colorful foliage and floral parts. It is a summer flowering annual, and its multi-colored foliage varies from green, bronze, or purple to brilliant maroon or crimson, which often suffuses with yellow and rose-pink.


  1. This article is based on a Center for Historic Plants Information Sheet.
  2. Betts, Garden Book, 635. See also Edwin M. Betts, Hazlehurst Bolton Perkins, and Peter J. Hatch, Thomas Jefferson's Flower Garden at Monticello 3rd ed. (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1986), 52.
  3. Alice M. Coates, Flowers and their Histories (London: Black, 1968), 14-15. See also David Stuart and James Sutherland, Plants from the Past: Old Flowers for New Gardens (London: Penguin Books, 1989), 73-74.
  4. Lawson, A New Voyage to Carolina (1709; University of North Carolina, 2001), 79, 89,

Further Sources


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