Curlytop Knotweed

Botanical Name : Polygonum lapathifolium – L.
Family : Polygonaceae
Genus  : Polygonum
Synonyms   : Persicaria lapathifolia – (L.)S.F.Gray., Polygonum scabrum – Moench.

Habitat : Temperate regions of the northern hemisphere, including Britain. S. Africa.  Swampy thickets, shores, damp clearings and cultivated fields in N. America

Description:
Curlytop Knotweed is an erect, annual  herb, 2′-5′ tall forb; stems with nodes either smooth or cut, but not hairy; taprooted.Flowers are  white-green to pink, 4- or 5-parted, 1/8″ long, petals and petal-like sepals connected at the base; inflorescence many 1/3″-2″ long, nodding, spike-like clusters on a stalk jointed at the top; blooms July-Sept.They are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.) Fruits are  dry seed flat or concave on both sides. Leaves are  alternate, variable but usually lance-like, often woolly beneath.

 

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It is hardy to zone 5. .
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist or wet soil.

Cultivation :
Succeeds in an ordinary garden soil  but prefers a moisture retentive not too fertile soil in sun or part shade. Repays generous treatment . Plants seem to be immune to the predations of rabbits.

Propagation:
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Germination is usually free and easy. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer if they have reached sufficient size. If not, overwinter them in a cold frame and plant them out the following spring after the last expected frosts.

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Edible Uses:Young leaves – raw or cooked. Seed – raw or cooked. It is rather small and fiddly to utilize.

Medicinal Uses:
Antiseptic; Astringent; Febrifuge; Stomachic.

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.

Other Uses: The plant produces a soft white mass, a froth like that of soap. It is used for bathing and washing clothes.

Known Hazards : 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 species 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

Resources:
http://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Polygonum+lapathifolium
http://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?search=Polygonum+lapathifolium
http://wisplants.uwsp.edu/scripts/detail.asp?SpCode=POLLAP

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