Herbs & Plants

Alpine Bistort(Polygonum viviparum)

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Botanical Name : Polygonum viviparum
Family : Polygonaceae
Genus : Polygonum
Synonyms : Bistorta vivipara – (L.)S.F.Gray. Polygonum viviparum, Persicaria vivipara.
Comon Name ;     Alpine Bistort,
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Caryophyllales
Species: P. viviparum

Habitat : It is common all over the high Arctic and northern regions of Europe, including Britain, Asia and America.It stretches further south in high mountainous areas like the Alps, Carpathians, Pyrenees, Caucasus and the Tibetan Plateau. Mountain grassland and wet rocks.Meadow; Cultivated Beds;

It is Perennial  and grows to 5-15 cm tall with a thick rootstock. The basal leaves are longish-elliptical with long stalks; upper ones are linear and stalkless. The flowers are white or pink in the upper part of the spike; lower ones are replaced by bulbils. Flowers rarely produce viable seeds and reproduction is normally by the bulbils. Very often a small leaf develops when the bulbil is still attached to the mother plant. The bulbils are rich in starch and are a preferred food for Ptarmigan and Reindeer; they are also occasionally used by Arctic people.
Alpine Bistort grows in many different plant communities, very often in abundance.

As with many other alpine plants, Alpine Bistort is slow growing, with an individual leaf or inflorescence taking 3-4 years to reach maturity from the time it is formed

It is hardy to zone 3. It is in flower from June to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.
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 soil.

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. Plants do not often produce viable seed, reproducing by means of bulbils formed on the lower portion of the flowering stem.


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. Division in spring or autumn. Very easy, larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is better to pot up the smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a cold frame until they are well established before planting them out in late spring or early summer.

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Leaves; Root; Seed.

Leaves – raw or cooked. They have a pleasant tart taste when cooked. Seed – raw or cooked. The seed is not often produced and even when it is, it is rather small and fiddly to utilize. It is rich in starch. It is pickled in Nepal. Root – raw or cooked. Starchy and pleasant but rather small. Sweet, nutty and wholesome. They taste best when roasted. Bulbils from lower part of flowering stem – raw.

Medicinal Actions & Use
Astringent; Styptic.

The root is astringent and styptic. It is used in the treatment of abscesses, as a gargle to treat sore throats and spongy gums, and as a lotion for ulcers.

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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