Herbs & Plants

Polygonum persicaria

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Botanical Name : Polygonum persicaria
Family: Polygonaceae
Genus: Persicaria
Species: P. maculosa
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Caryophyllales

Synonyms : Polygonum maculata, Persicaria maculosa.Polygonum ruderalis, Polygonum ruderalis, Polygonum vulgaris, Polygonum dubium, Polygonum fusiforme, Polygonum minus and Polygonum puritanorum.

Common Names :Persicaria, Redleg, Lady’s-thumb, Spotted Ladysthumb, Gambetta, and Adam’s Plaster

Habitat :Polygonum persicaria is native to Europe, it is an invasive species in the Great Lakes region where it was first spotted in 1843. Grows in roadside and damp places.

Polygonum persicaria is an annual/ perennial plant.It grows up to 1 m high, and has narrow, lancet-shaped leaves 8–10 cm long. The leaves often have a brown or black spot. The white, pink or red flowers are in dense panicles and flower from early summer to late autumn and the seeds ripen from Aug to October.It is hardy to zone 5.


It is native to Europe and Asia, where it can be mistaken for Polygonum minus, but P. minus has narrower leaves, usually less than 1 cm wide, while its ear is slimmer.The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Self.The plant is self-fertile.

It has been introduced to North America and is naturalised in all mainland states, being found along roadsides, riverbanks, and on fallow ground. In the USA, it is very similar to Pennsylvania smartweed, but Redshank has a fringe of hairs at the top of the ocrea, something which Pennsylvania smartweed lacks.

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.

Seed – sow spring in situ.

 Edible Uses  
Edible Parts: Leaves;  Seed.
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:
Astringent;  Diuretic;  Lithontripic;  Poultice;  Rubefacient;  Vermifuge.

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.

The Anglo-Saxons used Polygonum persicaria as a remedy for sore eyes and ears.  They called it Untrodden to Pieces, perhaps because it was so hardy and though that it survived even being stepped upon or otherwise crushed.

Other Uses  

A yellow dye is obtained from the plant when alum is used as a mordant.

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.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider


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