Bistorta bistortoides

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Bistorta bistortoides
Bistorta bistortoides, Western bistort, Yosemite.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Polygonaceae
Genus: Bistorta
B. bistortoides
Binomial name
Bistorta bistortoides
(Pursh) Small 1906
  • Persicaria bistortoides (Pursh) H.R. Hinds
  • Polygonum bistortoides Pursh

Bistorta bistortoides (American bistort, western bistort, smokeweed, mountain meadow knotweed, mountain buckwheat or mountain meadow buckwheat) is a perennial herb in the buckwheat and knotweed family Polygonaceae. The species name remains unresolved.[1]

Bistorta bistortoides is distributed throughout the Mountain West in North America from Alaska and British Columbia south into California and east into the Rocky Mountains.[2][3]

Bistorta bistortoides grows from foothills to above the timberline, although plants growing above 7,500 feet (2250 m) are smaller and seldom reach more than 12 inches (30 cm) in height. Plants in other areas may reach over half a meter–1.5 feet (20–60 cm) tall. The leaves are leathery and up to 40 centimeters (3 feet) long, and are mostly basal on the stem. The dense cylindrical to oblong inflorescence is packed with small white to pinkish flowers, each a few millimeters wide and with protruding stamens.[4]

American bistort was an important food plant used by Native Americans living in the Mountain West, and the roots are edible either raw or fire-roasted with a flavor resembling chestnuts. The seeds can be dried and ground into flour and used to make bread. They were also roasted and eaten as a cracked grain.[5][6]


  1. ^ a b "The Plant List: Bistorta bistortoides (Pursh) Small". Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Missouri Botanic Garden. 2013.
  2. ^ Biota of North America Program 2014 county distribution map
  3. ^ Turner Photographics, Polygonum bistortoides – Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest photos, description, partial distribution map
  4. ^ Flora of North America, Bistorta bistortoides (Pursh) Small, 1906. Western or American bistort , smokeweed
  5. ^ Edibility: Identification and edible parts of American Bistort
  6. ^ Tilford, G. L. Edible and Medicinal Plants of the West ISBN 0-87842-359-1

External links[edit]