'Temple Bells' Cockscomb Celosia
Celosia argentea var. cristata
Improvement status: Cultivar
Seeds per packet: ~75
Germination tested 8/2021: 98%
Life cycle: Annual
With its garish, almost neon flowers (in various shade of pink, magenta, red, green, and orange), composed of complex shapes and folds that look to many people like brains, there is something quite otherworldy about this plant. It almost looks like it must have been concocted in a lab. But this "cockscomb" form of Celosia has been a flower garden staple for centuries, being grown by colonists on this continent before the United States even existed.
While most people here only grow this plant for its beauty — both in the garden and as a long-lasting cut-flower — it actually has many uses. In Africa, where it is believed to have originated, it is a popular leafy green vegetable. In fact, it's such a fine green that it has spread throughout the tropics and is now a culturally important vegetable crop from Indonesia to South America. Young stems and flowers can be eaten too, and of course the flowers make an appealing garnish.
The plant is a nutritional powerhouse that likely has medicinal applications as well. It's a source of vitamin C, carotenoids, protein, nitrate, and oxalate. The seeds (which are also edible and similar to amaranth seeds) can have a diuretic effect. One study found that yellow inflorescences of may contain high doses of dopamine. And celosian, a polysaccharide extracted from the seeds, has demonstrated liver-protecting and immunostimulating effects. Another study found seed extract caused anti-metastatic effects in the liver of mice.
It's clear this is an understudied plant with great potential as medicine. But for now you can enjoy it as a beautiful addition to the garden that also provides tasty nutrition in the kitchen! Our seeds come from Wild Garden Seeds in Philomath, Oregon.