Smartweed, Polygonum
Polygonum spp.
Family Polygonaceae

* Flowers tiny, in tight pink and white clusters.
* Stems have the unique feature of being "knotted"; that is, a papery sheath surrounds the stem at each branching point.
* Leaves narrow, pointed, sometimes arrow-shaped and sometimes prickly.
* Height: 6"-6', depending on the species.

Natural History:
* Flowers June - November.
* Habitat: Meadows, wet shores, tidal marshes, near shallow water and roadsides.
* Range: Throughout the United States.
* Introduced from Europe.

* Europeans used tea from polygonum leaves to treat inflammation, stomach aches, and sore throats. Native Americans used many species of the plant medicinally as well. Their leaf tea stopped bleeding in the mouth, treated heart troubles, stomach aches, and kidney stones, and was also used as a soak for leg and foot rheumatism. Poultices made from the plant relieved general pain as well as poison ivy irritation, and were placed on horses' backs to keep away flies.

* Polygonums are members of the buckwheat family. The top photo shows Polygonum persicaria, or Lady's Thumb.


Created by: Allaire Diamond and Jiasuey Hsu
Maintained by: Nick Rodenhouse
Created: July 31, 1998
Last Modified: November 21, 2008