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Medical disclaimer: always check with a physician before consuming wild plants, and make positive identification in the field using a good source such as Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West.  Michael Moore also has a glossary of medical terms in his books, and maps in later editions. ) 
#118
Common Name: Bistort, Knotweed, Smartweed 
Latin Name: Polygonum alpinum, P. amphibium P. bistora P. bistortoids,  P. convolvulus, P. cuspidatum, P. douglasii, P. hydropiper, P. lapathifolium, P. Penslyvanicum, P. perfoliatum, P. persicaria, P. sachalinense, P. sagittantum, P. virginianum
Family: Polygonaceae
Range: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=POLYG4
Main database-all of North America and Hawaii

http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=POAL11 Alaska, Yukon and Northwest Territories (Polygonum alpinum aka P. alaskanum)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=POAM8 all of North America except Florida, Alabama and Georgia (Polygonum amphibium) (click on your state to see what counties it appears in.)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=POBI5Alaska, Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts; in Canada-Yukon, Northwest Territories, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia (Polygonum bistorta)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=POBI6 all States west of the Rocky Mountains, plus British Columbia and Alberta in Canada (Polygonum bistortoides)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=POCO10 All of North America and Hawaii, except Nunavut (Polygonum convolvulus)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=POCU6 All states east of the Mississippi R. all states on the west bank, except Alabama and Florida, plus S. Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Utah, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Alaska; in Canada; British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia (Polygonum cuspidatum)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=PODO4Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Maryland, Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, N. and S. Dakota, Nebraska and all states west of the Rocky Mountains; in Canada; British Columbia to Quebec (Polygonum douglasii)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=POHYAlaksa, Hawaii, all of the lower 48 States, except Arizona and New Mexico; In Canada; British Columbia, Manitoba to Newfoundland (Polygonum hydropiper)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=POLA4All of North America except Nunavut.
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=POPE2 All the lower 48 States, except Utah, Idaho and Washington; plus Alaska and in Canada; Manitoba to Newfoundland (Polygonum penslyvanicum)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=POPE10Oregon, Ohio, W. Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennslyvania and New York(Polygonum perfoliatum)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=POPE3 All of North America except Nunavut and Northwest Territories (Polygonum persicaria)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=POSA4>Vermont, Massachusetts south to Tennessee – N. Carolina, east to the Mississippi river, excluding Indiana, plus Minnesota, Maine, Louisiana, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California and Alaska; in Canada; British Columbia, Ontario east to New Foundland (Polygonum sachalinense)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=POSA5 All States east of the Mississippi R. and along the west bank,. plus North Dakota to Texas and Colorado and Oregon; in Canada; Manitoba to Labrador and New Foundland (Polygonum sagittatum)
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=POVI2 All States east of the Mississippi, except Maine, all States on the west bank of the Mississippi, plus Nebraska to Texas; in Canada; Ontario and Quebec (Polygonum virginianum)
Photos: (Click on Latin Name after Common Name)
Warnings: (On all Polygonum species on PFAF) Although no specific mention has been made for this species, there have been reports that some members of this genus can cause photosensitivity in susceptible people. Many spieces also contain oxalic acid (the distinctive lemony flavour of sorrel) – whilst not toxic this substance can bind up other minerals making them unavailable to the body and leading to mineral deficiency. Having said that, a number of common foods such as sorrel and rhubarb contain oxalic acid and the leaves of most members of this genus are nutritious and beneficial to eat in moderate quantities. Cooking the leaves will reduce their content of oxalic acid. People with a tendency to rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones or hyperacidity should take especial caution if including this plant in their diet since it can aggravate their condition.
#118(a)
Common Name: Alaska Wild Rhubarb (Polygonum alpinum)

Appearance and Habitat: Sub-alpine to alpine meadows, talis slopes above treeline, steep hillsides, steep cut banks or sandy loam of rivers; 100-1300 meters. Northwestern N. America-Alaska to Yukon and eastern Russia. A perennial growing to 1.8 m (6ft).
Edible Uses: Leaves – raw or cooked. They have an acid flavour and can be used as a sorrel substitute. The chopped leaves and stems have been added to a thick pudding of flour and sugar then eaten. Leaf stems – raw or cooked. An acid flavour, they can be cut into sections and used like rhubarb (Rheum spp). The juice from the plant has been sweetened and used as a refreshing drink. Seed – raw or cooked. It is rather small and fiddly to utilize.
Medicinal Uses: The whole plant is astringent. The raw roots and stem bases have been chewed as a treatment for coughs and colds.
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#118(b)
Common Name: Long Root Smartweed, Willow Grass (Polygonum amphibium)

Appearance and Habitat: Lakes, ponds, slow-flowing rivers and canals, also on banks by the river. Most of Europe, including Britain, temperate Asia, N. America and S. Africa. A perennial growing to 0.3 m (1ft). It is hardy to zone 5. It is in flower from Jul to September.
Edible Uses: Leaves – raw or cooked. The young shoots are eaten in the spring. Seed – cooked. It is rather small and fiddly to utilize.
Medicinal Uses: The whole plant, but especially the root, is astringent, depurative, skin. An infusion of the leaves and stems has been used to treat stomach pains and children with diarrhoea. The root has been eaten raw, or an infusion of the dried, pounded roots used, in the treatment of chest colds. A poultice of the fresh roots has been applied directly to the mouth to treat blisters.
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#118(c)
Common Name: Bistort (Polygonum bistorta)

Appearance and Habitat: Damp meadows and by water, especially on acid soils. Northern and central Europe, including Britain, mountains of S. Europe, western and central Asia. A perennial growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in). It is hardy to zone 4. It is in flower from Jun to September, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October.
Edible Uses: Leaves – raw or cooked. One report says that they are rather bitter, but we have found them to have a fairly mild flavour, especially when the leaves are young, though the texture is somewhat chewy when they are eaten raw. They make an excellent substitute for spinach. In Northern England the leaves are an ingredient of a bitter Lenten pudding, called Easter ledger pudding, that is eaten at Lent. The leaves are available from late winter in most years and can be eaten until the early autumn though they become much tougher as the season progresses. The leaves are a good source of vitamins A and C, a nutritional analysis is available. Seed – raw or cooked. The seed is very small and rather fiddly to utilize. Root – raw or cooked. Rich in starch and tannin, it is steeped in water and then roasted in order to reduce the tannin content. It is then said to be a tasty and nutritious food. The root has also been boiled or used in soups and stews and can be dried then ground into a powder and used in making bread. The root contains 30% starch, 1% calcium oxalate and 15 – 36% tannin.
Medicinal Uses: Bistort is one of the most strongly astringent of all herbs and it is used to contract tissues and staunch blood flow. The root is powerfully astringent, demulcent, diuretic, febrifuge, laxative and strongly styptic. It is gathered in early spring when the leaves are just beginning to shoot, and then dried. It is much used, both internally and externally, in the treatment of internal and external bleeding, diarrhoea, dysentery, cholera etc. It is also taken internally in the treatment of a wide range of complaints including catarrh, cystitis, irritable bowel syndrome, peptic ulcers, ulcerative colitis and excessive menstruation. Externally, it makes a good wash for small burns and wounds, and is used to treat pharyngitis, stomatitis, vaginal discharge, anal fissure etc. A mouth wash or gargle is used to treat spongy gums, mouth ulcers and sore throats. The leaves are astringent and have a great reputation in the treatment of wounds. In Chinese medicine the rhizome is used for: epilepsy, fever, tetanus, carbuncles, snake and mosquito bites, scrofula and cramps in hands and feet . Considered useful in diabetes
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#118(d)
Common Name: American Bistort, Western Bistort (Polygonum bistortoides)

Appearance and Habitat: At tops of slender, erect, reddish stems bloom dense white or pale pink flower clusters. One of the most common mountain wildflowers, sometimes covering meadows with thousands of clusters of white flowers. The stout roots were once prepared by Native Americans for food. Young leaves may be cooked as greens.(1)Moist or wet meadows and swamps, seldom below 2500 meters in Western N. America – Canada to California. A perennial growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in). It is hardy to zone 5. It is in flower from Jul to August.(2)A common plant of wet mountain meadows, usually above 10,000 feet. It has lanced shaped basal leaves and when in flower 1 to 2 foot stalks. It’s roots creep along horizontally and are fleshy with a dark outer surface.(3)
Edible Uses: Leaves – raw or cooked. A pleasant acid flavour, they are used as a potherb. Root – raw or cooked. Starchy and rather pleasant, the root can be baked or added to soups, stews etc. It was often dried before being used. The raw root is slightly astringent, it becomes sweeter when boiled but is best when baked. Seed – raw or cooked. It is rather small and fiddly to utilize.(4)
Medicinal Uses: The root is astringent. A poultice has been used in treating sores and boils.
(5)Collect the whole root, split into several sections, lengthwise, putting them in a fold of cheesecloth and hang them to dry in the shade. After they have dried, grind them up. The roots are a very strong astringent with antiseptic properties. It makes an excellent first aid dressing, mixed in equal portions with ground Osha root or Echinacea, for cuts and scraps. It can be mixed with clay, in equal proportions, for a drawing poultice. Mix it with hot water to make a paste for abscesses or sprained joints, changing it every few hours. The ground root can also be used to make tea for internal astringencies, use a teaspoon full in a cup of boiled water. A tincture can also be made for external use, 1 part dried ground root to 5 parts alcohol with one part glyerin and use as needed.(6)
Foot Notes:
(1)http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=POBI6
Foot Notes: (2, 4, 5)http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Polygonum+bistortoides
Foot Notes:
(3, 6 ) Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West by Michael Moore, 2nd Edition page 53-54, Publisher: Museum of New Mexico Press, Copyright 2003, ISBN 978-0-89013-454-2
(Personal Note: I have found Bistort at much lower altitudes than 10,000 feet, I believe it can be found in all the higher wet mountain ranges in the west.  )
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#118(e)
Common Name: Black Bindweed (Polygonum convolvulus) Appearance and Habitat: Waste places, arable land and gardens in Europe, includig Britain, from Norway south and east to N. Africa and temperate Asia. An annual growing to 1.2 m (4ft). It is in flower from Jul to October.
Edible Uses: Seed – ground into a powder and used as a gruel or mixed with cereals. The seed coat should be removed before use, this has caused mechanical injury to the digestive systems of animals who have eaten the seed. The seed is rather small and fiddly to utilize.
Medicinal Uses: None
(Personal Note: I have seen this vine in New Mexico growing in my roses)
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#118(f)
Common Name: Japanese Knotweed
(Polygonum cuspidatum)

Appearance and Habitat: Wet grassy places in lowland all over Japan. E. Asia-Japan Commonly naturalized in S. England. A perennial growing to 3 m (9ft) by 5 m (16ft) at a fast rate. It is hardy to zone 5. It is in flower from Jul to October, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October.
Edible Uses: Young shoots in spring – cooked. They can be used as an asparagus substitute. They have an acid flavour and can also be used as a rhubarb substitute in pies, fruit soups, jams etc. Older stems and shoot tips – cooked. They taste like a mild version of rhubarb. Seed – raw or cooked. It is rather small and fiddly to utilize. The seed can also be ground into a powder and used as a flavouring and thickener in soups etc, or can be mixed with cereals when making bread, cakes etc. The root is sometimes eaten
Medicinal Uses: The root is antiphlogistic, bechic, depurative, diuretic, emmenagogue, emollient, febrifuge, stomachic and vulnerary. It is also used in the treatment of women’s complaints. A decoction is used in the treatment of burn injuries, boils and abscesses, poisonous snakebites, acute hepatitis, appendicitis, traumatic injuries and menstrual irregularities. The leaves can be crushed and applied externally as a poultice to abscesses, cuts etc, whilst the dried roots can be ground into a powder and applied externally. Extracts of the plant have shown antitumour activity.
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#118(g)
Common Name: Douglas’ Knotweed (Polygonum douglasii)

Appearance and Habitat: Rocky slopes and dry soils all over N. America. N. America – Northwest Territory to British Columbia, south to Vermont, New Mexico and Oklahoma. An annual growing to 0.3 m (1ft).
Edible Uses: Leaves – raw or cooked. Seed – dried then ground into a powder and mixed with cornmeal or other cereals for making bread etc. The seed is rather small and fiddly to utilize, it is enclosed in a dry papery hull
Medicinal Uses: None
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#118(h)
Common Name: Marshpepper Knotweed, Smartweed (Polygonum hydropiper)

Appearance and Habitat: Shallow water in ponds, ditches etc. and wet places on land. Europe, including Britain, from Norway south and east to N. Africa and temperate Asia. An annual growing to 0.8 m (2ft 7in). It is in flower from Jul to September.
Edible Uses: Leaves and stems – raw or cooked. They can also be made into an acid peppery condiment. They are very hot. The leaves contain about 7.5% protein, 1.9% fat, 8% carbohydrate, 2% ash. The leaves are said to contain rutin. Seed – raw or cooked. It is rather small and fiddly to utilize. The seed is used as a condiment – a pepper substitute. The sprouted seeds or young seedlings can be used as a garnish or added to salads, they are commonly sold in Japanese markets. They are very hot
Medicinal Uses: Smartweed has a long history of herbal use, both in Eastern and Western herbalism. It is not used very often, and is seen more as a domestic remedy being valued especially for its astringent properties which makes it useful in treating bleeding, skin problems, diarrhoea etc. The leaves are anti-inflammatory, astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, stimulant, stomachic, styptic. They contain rutin, which helps strengthen fragile capillaries and thus helps prevent bleeding. Use with caution. The seed is carminative, diuretic and stimulant. The whole plant, either on its own or mixed with other herbs, is decocted and used in the treatment of a wide range of ailments including diarrhoea, dyspepsia, itching skin, excessive menstrual bleeding and haemorrhoids. A poultice of the plant is used in treating swollen and inflamed areas. In Chinese tests, the plant was ranked 20th in a survey of 250 potential antifertility drugs. A homeopathic remedy is made from the leaves. It is used in the treatment of piles, menstrual pains and other menstrual complaints.
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Polygonum+hydropiper
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#118(i)
Common Name: Curlytop Knotweed, (Polygonum lapathifolium)

Appearance and Habitat: Swampy thickets, shores, damp clearings and cultivated fields in N. America. Temperate regions of the northern hemisphere, including Britian, and S. Africa.
Edible Uses: Young leaves – raw or cooked. Seed – raw or cooked. It is rather small and fiddly to utilize.
Medicinal Uses: The whole plant is antiseptic and astringent. An infusion has been used in the treatment of stomach complaints and fevers. The plant produces a soft white mass, a froth like that of soap. It is applied externally to burns.
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#118(j)
Common Name: Pennsylvania Smartweed, Pink Smartweed
(Polygonum pensylvanicum)

Appearance and Habitat: Dense, erect, spike-like clusters of small, bright pink flowers are on sticky-haired stalks. About 75 species of smartweeds occur in North America. They are mainly are identified by their spikes of numerous flowers and encircling leaf sheaths. A closely related species, Pale Smartweed (P. lapathifolium), has white or pale rose, arching flower spikes and usually smooth stems. Both are found in gardens as well as in damp waste places. The seeds of these plants are eaten by songbirds and waterfowl. There are also climbing species of smartweeds.(1)Waste ground in moist soils. Moist disturbed places, ditches, riverbanks, cultivated fields, shorelines of ponds and reservoirs from sea level to 1800 meters. Eastern N. America – Nova Scotia to Ontario, Minnesota, Florida and Texas. An annual growing to 0.7 m (2ft 4in). It is in flower from Apr to December.(2)
Edible Uses: None(3)
Medicinal Uses: An infusion of the plant tops has been used in the treatment of epilepsy. An infusion of the leaves has been used to treat haemorrhages of blood from the mouth and to aid postpartum healing. The leaves have been used as a wipe on the anus in treating bloody piles.
(4)
Foot Notes:
(1) http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=POPE2
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#118(k)
Common Name: Asiatic Tearthumb (Polygonum perfoliatum)

Appearance and Habitat: Wet thickets and by rivers in lowland all over Japan. Moist, open, uncultivated land at elevations of 900 – 1400 meters in Nepal. E. Asia – China, Japan, Korea, India. An annual/perennial growing to 1.8 m (6ft). It is in flower from Jul to August, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October.
Edible Uses: Tender young leaves and shoots – raw or cooked. Used as a vegetable. Seed – raw or cooked. It is rather small and fiddly to utilize. The ripe fruits (seeds) are eaten fresh, especially by children
Medicinal Uses: The whole plant is depurative, diuretic and febrifuge. It is also used to stimulate blood circulation. A decoction is used in the treatment of dysentery, enteritis, boils and abscesses, poisonous snake bites, haematuria, cloudy urine and traumatic injuries. The juice of the leaves is used in the treatment of backaches.
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#118(l)
Common Name: Spotted Ladysthumb, Red Leg (Polygonum persicaria)

Appearance and Habitat: Damp shady places. A common weed of cultivated land, avoiding shade. Temperate regions of the northern hemisphere, including Britain. An annual growing to 0.6 m (2ft). It is hardy to zone 5. It is in flower from Jun to October, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October.
Edible Uses: Leaves and young shoots – raw or cooked. They contain about 1.9% fat, 5.4% pectin, 3.2% sugars, 27.6% cellulose, 1% tannin. Seed – raw or cooked. It is rather small and fiddly to utilize.
Medicinal Uses: The leaves are astringent, diuretic, rubefacient and vermifuge. An infusion has been used as a treatment for gravel and stomach pains. A decoction of the plant, mixed with flour, has been used as a poultice to help relieve pain. A decoction of the plant has been used as a foot and leg soak in the treatment of rheumatism. The crushed leaves have been rubbed on poison ivy rash.
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#118(m)
Common Name: Giant Knotweed(Polygonum sachalinense)

Appearance and Habitat: The plant is erect to arching, perennial, 4′-10′ tall, stout, shrub-like forb; long rhizomes forming clones to several acres; stems angular. Flower: white to greenish, 5-parted, petals and petal-like sepals; inflorescence many 3″-6″ branched clusters from the upper leaf axils. Leaves: alternate, up to 12″ long, oval with a gradually tapering tip and a heart-shaped base. Found on shores, grasslands and woods.(1)Along ravines and by streams in montane areas of Sakhalin Island. E. Asia -Japan, Occasionally naturalized in Britain. A perennial growing to 3.6 m (11ft) by 3 m (9ft) at a fast rate. It is hardy to zone 5. It is in flower from Jul to October, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October.(2)
Edible Uses: Young shoots in spring – raw or cooked. They can be added to salads or cooked as an asparagus substitute. They have an acid flavour and we find that they are more like a rhubarb substitute. Older stems and shoot tips – cooked. The stems are best peeled. Tasting like a mild version of rhubarb, they have a superior quality with a hint of lemon in the flavour. Seed – cooked. The seed can be ground into a powder and used as a thickener and flavouring in soups etc, or as an extender in flour. It is rather small and fiddly to utilize.(3)
Medicinal Uses: None
(4)
Foot Notes:
(1) http://wisplants.uwsp.edu/scripts/detail.asp?SpCode=POLSAC
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#118(n)
Common Name: Arrowleaf Teartumb, False Buckwheat (Polygonum sagittatum)

Appearance and Habitat: A native climbing or tangling, annual, 3′- 6′ tall, slender forb; 4 -angled stems very prickly. Flower: pink to white, 3/8″ long, stalkless, petals and petal-like sepals; inflorescence short, rounded, uninterrupted clusters on long stalks both terminal and from the leaf axils; blooms Aug.-Oct. Leaf: alternate, lance-like to elliptical, with narrow, downward-pointed lobes forming a heart-shaped base that surrounds the stem. Found in wet ground, marshes, streambanks and swamps(1)Wet soils, ditches in N. America – Newfoundland to Northwest Territory, south to Florida. Naturalized in Ireland(2)
Edible Uses: None(3)
Medicinal Uses: The plant has been used with success in the treatment of nephritic colic, relieving the pains caused by gravel
(4)
Foot Notes:
(1) http://wisplants.uwsp.edu/scripts/detail.asp?SpCode=POLSAG
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#118(o)
Common Name: Jumpseed
(Polygonum virginianum)
Appearance and Habitat: An erect, perennial, 20″-40″ tall forb; stems nodes hairy; from rhizomes. The flower: white to greenish, 4-parted, 1/8″ long, petals and petal-like sepals; inflorescence 4″-16″ very thin, spike-like, interrupted, terminal clusters; blooms July-Sept. The leaf: up to 6″ long, broad, lance-like to oval with a sharp tip. Habitat: shade to semi-shade; moist to wet; riverbanks, woods, cliffs, rocks.(1)Woods and thickets in lowland and hills all over Japan. Woods, stream bottoms and lower slopes in Texas. E. Asia – Japan to Himalayas. N. America – Nova Scotia to Minnesota, Florida and Texas. It is hardy to zone 5.(2)
Edible Uses: Leaves – raw or cooked. Seed – raw or cooked. It is rather small and fiddly to utilize.(3)
Medicinal Uses: The plant is astringent, demulcent, diuretic, pectoral and tonic. A hot infusion of the leaves, combined with honey locust bark (Gleditsia triacanthos) has been used in the treatment of whooping cough.
(4)
Foot Notes:
(1) http://wisplants.uwsp.edu/scripts/detail.asp?SpCode=POLVIR

Reproduced, in part, (as well as previous postings under this title) in accordance with Section 107 of title 17 of the Copyright Law of the United States relating to fair-use and is for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.


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