Polygonum coccineum
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Core eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Polygonaceae
Genus: Polygonum

Between 150-300 species; see text

Polygonum is a genus in the Polygonaceae family. Common names include knotweed, knotgrass, bistort, tear-thumb, mile-a-minute, and several others. In the Middle English glossary of herbs "Alphita" (ca. 1400-1425), it was known as ars-smerte.[1] There have been various opinions about how broadly the genus should be defined. For example, Buckwheat has sometimes been included in the genus.

The genus primarily grows in northern temperate regions. They vary widely from prostrate herbaceous annual plants under 5 cm high, others erect herbaceous perennial plants growing to 3–4 m tall, and yet others perennial woody vines growing to 20–30 m high in trees. Several are aquatic, growing as floating plants in ponds. The smooth-edged leaves range from 1–30 cm long, and vary in shape between species from narrow lanceolate to oval, broad triangular, heart-shaped, or arrowhead forms. The stems are often reddish or red-speckled. The small flowers are, pink, white, or greenish, forming in summer in dense clusters from the leaf joints or stem apices.

The genus name is from the Greek poly, "many" and gonu, "knee" in reference to the swollen jointed stem.

Polygonum species are occasionally eaten by humans, and are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species - see list. Most species are considered weedy, especially in moist soils in the USA.


Distribution and uses

Several species can be eaten cooked,[2] for example during famines.[3] The variety Polygonum cognatum, known locally as "madimak",[4][5][6] is regularly consumed in central parts of Turkey. In Chinese medicine, a Polygonum extract called Rèlínqīng Kēlì (热林清颗粒) is used to treat urinary tract infections.[7]


Between 65[8] and 300 species are recognised, depending on the circumscription of the genus; some botanists divide the genus into several smaller genera, including Fagopyrum, Fallopia and Persicaria.

The genus Polygonella has a number of morphological similarities with Polygonum, and some authors have included Polygonella in Polygonum.[8]

Selected species include:

  • Polygonum achoreum
  • Polygonum acetosum
  • Polygonum acuminata
  • Polygonum acuminatum - tapertip smartweed
  • Polygonum albanicum
  • Polygonum alpestre
  • Polygonum arenarium
  • Polygonum arenastrum – small-leaved knotgrass
  • Polygonum argyrocoleon
  • Polygonum arifolium
  • Polygonum aviculare – common knotgrass
  • Polygonum bellardii
  • Polygonum bidwelliae
  • Polygonum bistortoides American bistort, western bistort, smokeweed or mountain meadow knotweed
  • Polygonum bolanderi
  • Polygonum boreale
  • Polygonum brasiliensis
  • Polygonum bungeanum - Bunge's smartweed
  • Polygonum buxiforme
  • Polygonum caespitosum
  • Polygonum californicum – California knotweed
  • Polygonum careyi - Carey's smartweed
  • Polygonum cascadense
  • Polygonum caurianum
  • Polygonum chinense
  • Polygonum coccineum
  • Polygonum cognatum – Indian knotgrass
  • Polygonum davisiae
  • Polygonum densiflorum
  • Polygonum dibotrys
  • Polygonum douglasii – Douglas' knotweed
  • Polygonum erectum
  • Polygonum flaccidum – (Meisn.)
  • Polygonum foliosum
  • Polygonum forrestii
  • Polygonum fowleri
  • Polygonum franktonii
  • Polygonum glaucum
  • Polygonum griffithii
  • Polygonum herniarioides
  • Polygonum heterosepalum – dwarf desert knotweed
  • Polygonum hickmanii
  • Polygonum hirsutum
  • Polygonum hongkongensis
  • Polygonum hudsonianum
  • Polygonum hydropiperoides - swamp smartweed
  • Polygonum lacerum
  • Polygonum lanigerum
  • Polygonum marinense
  • Polygonum maritimum – sea knotgrass
  • Polygonum meisneranum
  • Polygonum meisnerianum
  • Polygonum minimum – broadleaf knotweed
  • Polygonum multiflorum
  • Polygonum newberryi - Newberry knotweed
  • Polygonum oxyspermum – Ray's knotgrass
  • Polygonum paronychia
  • Polygonum paronychioides
  • Polygonum parryi
  • Polygonum patulum - Bellard's smartweed
  • Polygonum perfoliatummile-a-minute weed
  • Polygonum phytolaccifolium
  • Polygonum plebeium
    Polygonum plebeium
  • Polygonum polycnemoides
  • Polygonum polycnenoides
  • Polygonum polygaloides
  • Polygonum polystachyum
  • Polygonum punctatum - dotted smartweed
  • Polygonum raii = Polygonum oxyspermum
  • Polygonum ramosissimum
  • Polygonum robustius - stout smartweed
  • Polygonum rurivagum
  • Polygonum salicifolium[9]
  • Polygonum scoparium
  • Polygonum segetum - field smartweed
  • Polygonum setaceum - bog smartweed
  • Polygonum shastense
  • Polygonum striatulum
  • Polygonum tenue

Reclassified as Fagopyrum

  • Polygonum fagopyrum (Fagopyrum esculentum) – buckwheat

Reclassified as Fallopia

  • Polygonum aubertii = Polygonum baldschuanicum
  • Polygonum baldschuanicum (Fallopia baldschuanica) (Fallopia aubertii, Bilderdykia aubertii, Bilderdykia balschuanicum) – Russian vine
  • Polygonum cilinode (Fallopia cilinodis, Bilderdykia cilinodis) – fringed black bindweed, mountain bindweed
  • Polygonum convolvulus (Fallopia convolvulus) – Black Bindweed, wild buckwheat
  • Polygonum cuspidatum = Polygonum japonicum - Japanese knotweed
  • Polygonum dumetorum (Fallopia dumetorum) – copse bindweed
  • Polygonum japonicum (Fallopia japonica, Reynoutria japonica) – Japanese knotweed
  • Polygonum multiflorum (Fallopia multiflora)
  • Polygonum sachalinense (Fallopia sachalinensis, Reynoutria sachalinensis) – giant knotweed
  • Polygonum scandens (Fallopia scandens)

Reclassified as Persicaria

Flowerhead of Persicaria maculata (syn. Polygonum persicara)
  • Polygonum affine (Persicaria affinis)
  • Polygonum alatum (Persicaria alata)
  • Polygonum alpinum – alpine knotweed (Persicaria alpina)
  • Polygonum amphibium – amphibious bistort, longroot smartweed, water smartweed, (Persicaria amphibia)
  • Polygonum amplexicaule (Persicaria amplexicaulis)
  • Polygonum bistorta – bistort (Persicaria bistorta)
  • Polygonum campanulatum – lesser knotweed, bellflower smartweed, (Persicaria campanulata) (Reynoutria campanulatum)
  • Polygonum capitatum - pinkhead smartweed, (Persicaria capitata)
  • Polygonum emodi (Persicaria emodi)
  • Polygonum filiforme (Persicaria virginiana)
  • Polygonum hydropiperwater-pepper (Persicaria hydropiper)
  • Polygonum lapathifolium – pale persicaria or nodding smartweed (Persicaria lapathifolia)
  • Polygonum longisetum (Persicaria longiseta)
  • Polygonum macrophyllum (Persicaria macrophylla)
  • Polygonum milletii (Persicaria milletii)
  • Polygonum minus – small water-pepper (Persicaria minor)
  • Polygonum mite – tasteless water-pepper (Persicaria mitis, Persicaria laxiflora)
  • Polygonum molle (Persicaria mollis)
  • Polygonum nepalense (Persicaria nepalensis)
  • Polygonum odoratumVietnamese coriander (Persicaria odorata)
  • Polygonum orientale (Persicaria orientalis)
  • Polygonum pensylvanicum – Pennsylvania smartweed or pink knotweed or pinkweed (Persicaria pensylvanica)
  • Polygonum persicaria – redshank or persicaria or lady's thumb (Persicaria maculosa)
  • Polygonum polystachyum = Polygonum wallichii
  • Polygonum runciforme (Persicaria runcinata)
  • Polygonum sagittatum – arrowleaf tearthumb, American tear-thumb or scratchgrass (Persicaria sagittata)
  • Polygonum tenuicaule (Persicaria tenuicaulis)
  • Polygonum tinctorium (Persicaria tinctoria)
  • Polygonum vaccinifolium (Persicaria vaccinifolia)
  • Polygonum virginianum (Persicaria virginiana)
  • Polygonum viviparumalpine bistort (Persicaria vivipara)
  • Polygonum wallichii – Himalayan knotweed (Persicaria wallichii)
  • Polygonum weyrichii (Persicaria weyrichii)


  1. ^ Middle English Dictionary
  2. ^ Knotweed at NorthernBushCraft
  3. ^ Łukasz Łuczaj (2008). "Archival data on wild food plants used in Poland in 1948". J Ethnobiol Ethnomed 4 (4): 4. doi:10.1186/1746-4269-4-4. PMC 2275233. PMID 18218132. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=2275233. 
  4. ^ See the article in Turkish: http://tr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mad%C4%B1mak_(bitki)
  5. ^ See the preparation of one particular dish in Turkey using polygonum cognatum: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzNCO94rWXE
  6. ^ One more dish based on "madimak" polygonum cognatum: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p3cJk6ChPkY
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ a b "Polygonum". Flora of North America. http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=126398. 
  9. ^ Bussmann, R. W., et al. (2006). Plant use of the Maasai of Sekenani Valley, Maasai Mara, Kenya. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed 2 22.

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Polygonum — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda ? Polygonum Polygonum bistorta …   Wikipedia Español

  • polygonum — ⇒POLYGONUM, subst. masc. BOT. Genre de plante herbacée ou vivace, à tige noueuse, de la famille des Polygonacées, dont il existe de nombreuses espèces sauvages ou cultivées. Le genre Polygonum est à peu près cosmopolite, sans doute grâce à l… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • polygonum — [pō lig′ə nəm, pəlig′ə nəm] n. 〚ModL < L polygonon < Gr, kind of plant, knotgrass < poly , many (see POLY ) + gony, a joint, KNEE: from the many joints〛 any of a genus (Polygonum) of annual or perennial plants of the buckwheat family, h …   Universalium

  • polygonum — [pō lig′ə nəm, pəlig′ə nəm] n. [ModL < L polygonon < Gr, kind of plant, knotgrass < poly , many (see POLY ) + gony, a joint, KNEE: from the many joints] any of a genus (Polygonum) of annual or perennial plants of the buckwheat family,… …   English World dictionary

  • Polygonum — Po*lyg o*num, n. [NL., fr. Gr. ? a kind of plant; poly s many + go ny the knee, a joint of a plant. So called in allusion to the numerous joints.] (Bot.) A genus of plants embracing a large number of species, including bistort, knotweed,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Polygōnum — (P. L., Knöterig), Pflanzengattung aus der Familie der Polygoneae verae, 8. Kl. 3. Ordn. L.; einfache Blüthenhülle vier bis fünfspaltig od. theilig, oberwärts gefärbt; Staubgefäße zweireihig, in der äußeren fünf, in der inneren drei; letztere… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Polygŏnŭm — L. (Knöterich), Gattung der Polygonazeen, ein oder mehrjährige Kräuter oder Halbsträucher, bald sehr dünnzweigig, niedrig, niedergestreckt, auch schachtelhalmartig, bald hoch, dick, fleischig, auch schlingend, mit häufig stark knotig gegliedertem …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Polygonum — Polygŏnum L., Knöterich, Pflanzengattg. der Polygonazeen, überall verbreitet, meist mit lockern Blütenähren; P. hydropiper L. (scharfer Knöterich, Wasserpfeffer), von brennend beißendem Geschmack. Die Blätter von P. bistorta L. (Wiesenknöterich,… …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Polygonum —   [zu griechisch polýgonos »vielsamig«], die Pflanzengattung Knöterich.   …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Polygonum — Renouée Renouée …   Wikipédia en Français

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