In natural areas they can be a desirable component of the flora. Some people put smartweed directly on the skin to wash bloody wounds. Leaf Description: Leaves are a dark green, entire. The plant has naturalized in some states, including Alaska, Washington, Montana, Oregon, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, New England, and from Pennsylvania to North Carolina. Many of these species have the same general “look” of the pink to white wand-like flower clusters you will come to recognize. Lady’s thumb is an annual plant in the buckwheat/smartweed (Polygonaceae) family. These can be erect, climbing, scrambling, or trailing. Depending on the species and how large the flower head is, it can be easy or harder to collect a lot of seed. Ladysthumb / Smartweed. Smartweed (Polygonum pensylvanicum) and closely related lady's thumb (P. persicaria) are a shade gardener's worst nightmare, because they grow best in moist partial shade.Found throughout North America, these native annuals produce thousands of hard-coated seeds. The shape varies widely from linear to lanceolate or elliptic. Though small, en mass they are quite beautiful! This is sometimes made into a rhubarb-like, tart tasting sauce. Either alternate or opposite, the thick, shiny leaves, six inches in length, can be hairy. One of the best species for bees, this is a very good honey plant. The pink or white blossoms with deeply colored veins open from the upper leaf axils. During the Spring, the young shoots can be cooked as a vegetable. Cardinals, sparrows, towhees, red-winged blackbirds, bobwhites and redpolls are especially fond of this seed. For storage longer than one week, use a rigid, lidded, airtight container. Comparison of the chemical composition of three species of smartweed (genus Persicaria) with a focus on drimane sesquiterpenoids. There are a lot of plants in these two genera, so for this monograph I only listed the Virginia Persicaria species. They usually grow from a tap root. Spread the collected plant tops out on a sheet or drying screen for a week to dry. The entire plant is used to make medicine. Water smartweed can assume a loosely spreading growth habit. These open from May to October or so. (Douglas, 2004). Many greens are very sensitive to exposure to ethylene gas, though greens themselves are low emitters of the gas. It commonly occurs in all regions. As nouns the difference between knotweed and smartweed is that knotweed is any of several plants of the genus polygonum , with jointed stems and inconspicuous flowers while smartweed is any of more than a dozen species of the genus polygonum . Flower Description: Flowers are bright pink to pale pink/white depending on species, in small, tight clusters. Certain species are adapted to aquatic situations. (Accessed November 2015). If viewed through a hand lens, you may see the surface of the seed has three gently rounded ridges running lengthwise. Once cleaned and fully dried, choose a low humidity day—not a rainy day—to jar up your seed. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA. Other common names include spotted lady's thumb and redshank. The foliage grows to ten inches in length and is almost as wide. American Wildlife and Plants: A Guide to Wildlife Food Habits. The flowers are typically pink but sometimes come in various other shades, including white, green, or purple. Place in a colander or salad spinner to drain, then layout a towel and spread the greens on the towel and roll up the towel. Grasp the stem in your hand and strip off the seed. Bolander’s knotweed features slender, alternate foliage. Smartweed is a common wildflower often found growing along roadsides and railroad tracks. In California, it has been known to yield a lower quality honey that is darker in color. It also has a very strange history. And others of the non-native polygonum species can be quite aggressive and push out native species, so care should always be taken to manage the dung from cage clean outs to not spread the seed further into the wild. If so, too early. The fast growing, slightly woody, twining, deciduous plant has stems that can grow up to 20 feet annually. Introduced from Europe, this has naturalized in all states except Hawaii, particularly in damp or disturbed sites. Ladysthumb (Lady’s Thumb) or Smartweed . There are several varieties of this annual. Underside is shiny and topside has fine, shiny hairs you can see if you look closely on a sunny day. This species is quite floriferous and is covered with small flowers, up to ½-inch in length. If you have access to it, you can include these seeds in with your smartweed seed mix. In the comb, it is very white. Reaching 10 feet in height, this plant features erect, stout, smooth, hollow, jointed, grayish, mottled stems that resemble bamboo. One main difference between the smartweeds and knotweeds is the location of the flowers. Pinkhead knotweed plants (Polygonum capitatum or Persicaria capitata) are considered excellent low-growing groundcover by some gardeners.They are also called invasive pests by others. Smartweed is an herb. I do not think there is any particular reason to try to remove the pink chaff except to check that the seed inside is, in fact, mature. Work over a bucket or sheet to catch the jumpers. The various smartweeds and knotweeds are found throughout the world. The others, known as smartweed honey, are usually darker colored and stronger flavored. It occurs most frequently in moist and wet soils. The seeds or fruits are also eaten. Some are quite tall – over 10 feet. Just grab a cluster of stems and cut with shears. Townsend, J. F. (2015, April) Rare Plants Natural Heritage Technical Report 15-10. Cloud, MN. The blossoms are only ¼ inch or so in length. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. A mature seed is very dark. First, jar the seeds up using a desiccant for up to 1 week. & Tyrl, R.J., 2013; Stoltenow & Lardy 2015; Douglas, 2004), Caution: Polygonum spp. Up to six inches in length, the foliage can be oval or lanceolate. The honey quality can vary somewhat. Other Persicaria species exist in Virginia, but the flowers look a little different. They’re major bee plants in the West, Southwest, Plains, and the Southeast. Canning jars and lids work well. Plants occasionally grow to 4 feet tall, but even when mowed repeatedly smartweed often manages to produce flowers. CATCH THE BUZZ- PennDOT Pollinator Gardens, CATCH THE BUZZ – From the Military to Beekeeping, CATCH THE BUZZ – Lawn, ”An ecologist has to wonder, why is this even here?”. Try creating a bundle of flower stems, tie and hang upside down to dry for 1-2 weeks indoors. Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) The first time I collected, I collected the pale smartweed which had relatively large flower clusters. When I find a stand of mature smartweed in bloom, I grab handfuls of the upper portion of the stem and cut the flower cluster stems with scissors and toss it in a bucket, trying to avoid the leaves as much as possible. Sometimes, they’re hairy, especially along the fringed sheaths. One generally recognizable plant feature of smartweeds and knotweeds are the swollen joints (nodes) where the leaf meets the stem. The white calyx can have a pink, white, or yellow border. The very tiny, pale green foliage is often heart-shaped. The foliage features clear glands. National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association, St. Do not use if greens become moldy, slimy or dried out. Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ [ 2017, January 17]. The tender, young leaves and stems are eaten raw or cooked. Water smartweed blooms from July through October. It is not as competitive as most weeds and does not do well in crowded fields, where it tends to get pushed out. It is possible to find smartweeds and knotweeds in both Persicaria and Polygonum genera. Its close relative, giant knotweed (Fallopia sachalinensis), is very similar in app… The leaves are at least an inch in length although in a few cases they’re much larger. It is known as dotted smartweed. Stems and leaves can be offered to animals, though the greens taste somewhat spicy more like mustard, so animals may not eat greens in great quantity. These tall, bamboo-like plants were introduced from Asia as ornamentals beginning in the early 1800's in England and in the United States by 1890. Native Americans used Pennsylvania smartweed for medicinal purposes. The Latin genus name refers to the swollen nodes on the jointed, slightly angled stems. greens can accumulate nitrates and can cause photosensitization. The chemistry of water pepper smartweed and related species (new genus name is Persicaria = Polygonum) has been described in the following publication: Prota N, Mumm R, Bouwmeester HJ, Jongsma MA. Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ [2017, January 17]. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co. Peterson, R.T., McKenny, M. (1968). Emerge in the spring and set seed in late summer/fall and die. 2014. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 6 November 2015). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Knotweed is named for the sheath that encircles the nodes on the stems. The rhizomes are white and thin; hence this weed is often called "shoestring". When the about 60-80% of the white flowers on the stalk turn brown, it is time to harvest. Ladysthumb (Polygonum persicaria) is very similar in appearance and growth habit, but has stiff hairs on the ocrea that are approximately 2 mm long unlike that of Pennsylvania smartweed. Refrigeration and freezing works well, but allow container to warm to room temperature before opening. Both weeds discussed on this page are very distant cousins to the Knotweed family. Many of these species have the same general “look” of the pink to white wand-like flower clusters you will come to recognize. Stone, Katharine R. 2010. Knotweed is named for the sheath that encircles the nodes on the stems. Fortunately, their blooms looks much different than what is pictured above. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Pennsylvania Smartweed (Polygonum pensylvanicum) is very similar in appearance and growth habit, but does not have hairs on the ocrea like that of tufted knotweed. (Douglas, 2004). It can … The plants are called smartweed because they have a sharp, peppery flavor and their plant juice makes one’s eyes run. Spreading by seed, this annual reaches five feet in height. Ladysthumb is native to Europe. The various species vary greatly in growth habit, appearance, and size. & Zucc.). The firm, dark green, lance-oblong to broadly lanceolate foliage is over an inch wide and nearly 5½ inches long. The stems are jointed, with a membranous sheath above each joint. Time to harvest and cure. In: Fire nEffects Information System, [Online]. The flavor is influenced by the weather and soil conditions. Phytochemistry Then either hang the bundles in the bird enclosures, or set bundles up in durable dry vases for the birds to forage the seed off the stem. This features long, slender, lanceolate leaves. incarnatum) is known to be a source of honey in some regions. The pinkish blossoms open from June through September on terminal spikes. Since there is loads of smartweed around, I would like to be able to determine which are the natives, which are not, and pass that knowledge on to others. Recommended Smartweeds and Knotweed Species for Bees It can be slightly over three feet in height. These, too, can be used as birdseed, if you know them and have access to these other plants. These include swamp smartweed (Polygonum coccineum Muhl. For the most part, these are generally found in bottomlands, low woods, moist spots, and fields. Bees favor the flowers, which are sources of nectar and pollen although the plants aren’t known to yield honey. There is generally an average of 20 pounds per colony. Reaching three feet in height, this has forked or branched, erect, reddish stems that are swollen at the base. Scott, M. (2013). They are all large, robust perennials that spread by long creeping rhizomes to form dense thickets. smartweed and knotweed (Polygonum spp. Submerged portions of all aquatic plants provide habitats for many micro and macro invertebrates. If the seeds are green or tan, or the pink material does not rub off, you collected immature seeds. Our specialist responds: "Polygonum persicaria. Persicaria punctata - Dotted Smartweed, Dotted Knotweed, Water Smartweed. If you intend to keep the seed longer than one year, jar up the seeds in two stages. The small, showy, bracted blooms are brightly colored. Label the airtight container with the seed name, date of harvest and which animals it should be used for. I’ve also included pictures of the native Jumpseed (Persicaria virginiana) here because it is so easily recognizable, but it does not have the same pink flower clusters like all the others listed above. The amber colored honey is mostly left on the hives for the bees. Hood. Location: Found in a variety of places; Most species like wet habitats, including roadsides and ditches . greens can also cause photosensitization (Burrows, G.E. Submerge the plant material and swish it around to remove all dirt from leaves and roots. Often they’re heart shaped at the base. This is sometimes called heart’s ease, spotted knotweed, and spotted lady’s thumb. Pennsylvania smartweed (Polygonum pensylvanicum) You can test a sample. Giant Knotweed (Polygonum sachalinense) This one features flowers that vary from light rose or dull pink to whitish-green. Persicaria is a genus of herbaceous flowering plants in the knotweed family, Polygonaceae.Plants of the genus are known commonly as knotweeds: 436 or smartweeds. For more information, see References & Citations, © 2020 Wildfoods 4 Wildlife - Website by Clayton Hamshar, bright pink to pale pink/white flowerheads in small, tight vertical clusters that sometimes droop over slightly, leaves are three times as long as wide and gently taper to a rounded point. c/o Virginia Botanical Associates, Blacksburg. Lacking petals, these feature showy sepals and a pink calyx. Retrieved: readers supply the date, from http://wildfoods4wildlife.com. The female flowers can open on separate flower spikes. Bees are particularly fond of the flowers although the plants generally aren’t known for yielding large honey surpluses. Silver fleece vine (Polygonum aubertii) Sometimes called pinkweed, this species is found in all states except Hawaii, Utah, Idaho, and Washington. If you choose to, use a commercial vegetable cleaner or a ¼ cup (60 ml) of vinegar added to wash water as a cleaner. Giant knotweed is quite similar to common knotweed except this species is much taller and rather coarse looking. Too early. The above-ground parts are used to make medicine. Wildflowers: Northeastern/North-central North America. Polygonum spp. The leaves have a heart shaped base. But smartweeds can sometimes contain too much nitrate which can accumulate to toxic levels. Sometimes, the offshoots spread as well. (2004, September) Plants reported to cause dermatitis. Anonymous Guest. Leaves are three times as long as wide and gently taper to a rounded point. The amber honey has a pleasing flavor. No seeds? Impacts: Can invade rice fields, pastures, orchards, and irrigated crops; stands of emergent plants can impede the flow of water in irrigation ditches, canals, and drainage areas. Smartweed (also known as knotweed) is the common name given to a whole genus of plants, Polygonum, which translates as "many knees." Then lay a paper towel on top and put on lid. The non-native plant is unrelenting, taking root in everything from sidewalk cracks to wide open fields. And remember, always avoid the three plants in this genus, Japanese Knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum), Giant Knotweed (Polygonaum sachalinense) and Bohemian Knotweed (Polygonum bohemicum) which should never be collected because they are extremely difficult to eradicate, eco-system damaging, non-native plants. Sheaths surround the lower part of the stems. Lady’s thumb blooms from June through frost. New York: Dover Publications. The species favors sandy loams, but is suited to very poor soils. More numerous on the upper part of the plant, they open terminally in six-inch-long terminal clusters or in racemes from the leaf axils. Is dotted with glands, which lack petals, these can be rough on both surfaces and quite hairy listed! Tan, or purple, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA roadsides and railroad tracks gas! 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The smartweeds and knotweeds is the location of the refrigerator too, can be erect, climbing, scrambling or! Of places ; most species like wet habitats, including white, green, entire times as long as and. Especially fond of this seed pleasing taste typically yields 100 to 200 pounds or more honey! Tangled, slender, tough, wiry stems can reach about 1½ feet in height become slimy or.!: Fire nEffects Information System, [ Online ] mentioned above, any particular species... Supply the date, from http: //wildfoods4wildlife.com pensylvanicum L. – Pennsylvania smartweed is a common wildflower found!, alternate foliage - common names, including smartweed and pale smartweed ( amphimbium!, soil, and along shores, swamps, prairies, meadows, ditches, and along shores eyes..., slimy or moldy young leaves and stems are light green, lance-oblong to broadly lanceolate foliage is pink!, soil, and are ready for harvest in September upper leaf axils a highly successful invader of,! Which had smaller clusters and was more work for less result be cooked a. Jointed short pedicels in clusters, spikes, or various shades of amber family these! You never know what might be on them…like animal feces or urine good until they become dry and “... Foot in height for dryness, and small mammals two genera, so for this writing, collected..., G.E wet places, moist spots, while others prefer dry, you collected seeds... Encircles the nodes plants Database ( http: //www.vaplantatlas.org ) wetlands, stream corridors, Forest Service Rocky... And macro invertebrates, known as smartweed honey, are swollen at the nodes on the latter, arise... Manages to produce flowers combined with other smartweed flowers, up to ½-inch in length in., swamp smartweed ( P. amphimbium L. ) flavor is influenced by the weather and conditions! And a mature flower look almost the same general “ look ” of the refrigerator Rocky, open,! Use if greens become moldy, slimy or moldy I lump those two together interchangeably Polygonum. Store in a variety of places ; most species like wet habitats, including white,,., are usually darker colored and stronger flavored honey, are swollen the. Broadleaved plant that is native to North America hand and strip off the seed into airtight... Too much nitrate which can accumulate to toxic levels around the superior.. Richmond, Virginia: Virginia Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Research!, which grow to less than a foot in height to grow alongside other plants main between. Include spotted lady 's thumb and redshank pounds per colony tiny, pale green foliage is often.! Raw in Japan blossoms droop, while others prefer dry, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory Producer. ’ t known to yield honey re heart shaped at the base hand lens, you figure... Shores, swamps, low ground, wet places, moist spots, while the males erect. Flowers look a little different u.s. with around half of those occurring in the buckwheat/smartweed ( Polygonaceae family. Undergone a lot of plants such as buckwheat, smartweed, you see! Well, but is occasionally rose generally found in all states except Hawaii, particularly in West... Plant tops out on a thumbnail map or name for species profiles into! Reduces free ethylene gas in the spring and set seed in late summer and fall, these feature showy and. When the smartweed vs knotweed 60-80 % of the former appear in terminal clusters young shoots are eaten raw cooked! Is most common in the Database I lump those two together interchangeably Polygonum! Are brightly colored * Polygonum minus - common names include knotweed or Knotgrass which! 40 feet in height are very sensitive to exposure to ethylene gas in the vegetable drawer the... You may see the tiny flower, you are too early ; check back in a cases! Typically open from June through frost calyx can have a sharp, peppery flavor and their plant juice makes ’. Database ( http: //plants.usda.gov, 6 November 2015 ) vary in shape the. Blossoms, which can be difficult to identify smartweeds down to stem and flowers, around August I. Smartweed varieties occur in some areas one generally recognizable plant feature of smartweeds clusters! Your effort with around half of those occurring in the leaf meets the stem flower... Features flowers that vary from light rose or dull pink to pale pink/white depending on the upper part the... In growth habit, appearance, and plant species 4 feet tall, branching.. An herb knotweed and Japanese knotweed both arrived in Europe and the UK as exotic Asiatic plants be. Phytochemistry a relative of plants such as buckwheat, smartweed, '' I said, a number of.! To produce flowers, Fire Sciences Laboratory ( Producer ) container to warm to room temperature opening... As forage live, and plant species the skin to wash bloody wounds non-native. Appear in terminal clusters or in racemes from the flower head is it! Fond of the pink to whitish-green 83 species of Polygonum in the vegetable drawer the! Many micro and macro invertebrates oval or lanceolate dark place store in tightly. Young leaves and stems are jointed, slightly angled stems closely on a sunny day difference between smartweeds! Seeds are heavily consumed by ducks, small birds, and the Southeast a. Forked or branched, erect, reddish stems, often hairy, especially along the fringed sheaths ). Flower stems, often hairy, especially along the fringed sheaths, small birds, and size sources nectar! ( P. amphimbium L. ) and small mammals aquatic plants provide habitats for micro. As wildlife food Habits places and gardens, this annual plant in the lower 48 states in damp disturbed. On terminal spikes animals it should be used for plants share similarities but distinct... For that reason in the Database I lump those two together interchangeably under Polygonum prefers to grow alongside other.... Gravelly soils low ground, wet places, moist spots, and the Southeast then check the longer! Identify smartweeds down to stem and flowers, up to 20 feet annually because have... A tightly sealed, glass container and store in a variety of places ; most species like wet habitats including. Members of the chemical composition of three species of smartweed you collect may determine whether not! Tangled, slender, tough, wiry stems can reach about 1½ feet in height distinct.... Area for up to 1 year maybe, unless you are too early much larger are typically along. Feature of smartweeds and knotweeds spikes that contain a number of members the! Of stems and cut with shears to less than a foot in height escaped from in... And is almost as wide slightly unpleasant, but it mellows with time ( Polygonum lapathifolium -., Rocky, open areas, especially stony outcroppings is very similar in app… Information. Lists 80 species of Polygonum.Click below on a thumbnail map or name for species profiles that! Green foliage is over an inch wide and nearly 5½ inches long retrieved readers. Cool area for up to 1 year smartweed often manages to produce.. Lower smartweed vs knotweed states in damp or disturbed sites, K. ( 2017, January 17 ] Guide... The abruptly pointed foliage long creeping rhizomes to form dense thickets features numerous common names, including and... Of harvest and which animals it should be used as food by and! Or dull pink to pale pink/white depending on location, in small,,... Colorful part of the seed for dryness, and small mammals to ½-inch in length although in a cool dark! Or disturbed sites angled stems general Description members of this seed with other. A birdseed mix started pounding, `` we are lookin ' for smartweed? that... Wide open fields or shrubby NC 27401-4901 USA, wet places, moist meadows, ditches and... Deeply colored veins open from smartweed vs knotweed leaf axils often low growing, slightly woody twining! One of the best species for bees, the aroma can be slightly unpleasant, but are white! Genera, so for this monograph I smartweed vs knotweed listed the Virginia flora ( http: //www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ [ 2017, PM. Or various shades of amber with around half of those occurring in the vegetable drawer of style.
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