Overview

Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Alta., B.C.; Ariz., Calif., Colo., Idaho, Mont., Nev., N.Mex., Oreg., Utah, Wash., Wyo.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

Plants (10-)20-70(-75) cm; rhizomes contorted. Stems 1-3. Leaves: ocrea brown, cylindric, 9-25(-32) mm, margins oblique, glabrous; petiole attached to sheath 10-35(-50) mm, usually wingless, rarely winged distally, (10-)30-70(-110) mm; blade elliptic to oblong-lanceolate or oblong-oblanceolate, (3.5-)5-22 × 0.8-4.8 cm, base tapered to rounded, rarely abruptly truncate or cuneate, often asymmetric, margins entire, sometimes wavy, apex usually acute to acuminate, rarely obtuse, abaxial face glabrous or pubescent with whitish or brownish hairs, glaucous, adaxial face glabrous, not glaucous; cauline leaves 2-6, petiolate proximally, sessile distally, gradually reduced distally, blade elliptic or lanceolate to linear-lanceolate. Inflorescences 1(-2), short-cylindric to ovoid, (10-)20-40(-50) × (8-)12-25 mm, bulblets absent; peduncle 1-10 cm. Pedicels ascending or spreading, 2-8(-11) mm. Flowers 1-2 per ocreate fascicle; perianth white or pale pink; tepals oblong, 4-5 mm, apex obtuse to acute; stamens exserted; anthers yellow, elliptic. Achenes yellowish brown or olive-brown, 3.2-4.2 × 1.3-2 mm, shiny, smooth. 2n = 24.
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Diagnostic Description

Synonym

Polygonum bistortoides Pursh, Fl. Amer. Sept. 1: 271. 1813; Bistorta bistortoides var. oblongifolia (Meisner) Moldenke; Persicaria bistortoides (Pursh) H. R. Hinds; Polygonum bistortoides var. linearifolium (S. Watson) Small; P. bistortoides var. oblongifolium (Meisner) H. St. John
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Type Information

Holotype for Polygonum vulcanicum Greene
Catalog Number: US 285256
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): E. I. Applegate
Year Collected: 1896
Locality: Upper Camp Spring, Crater Lake., Klamath, Oregon, United States, North America
  • Holotype: Greene, E. L. 1903. Pittonia. 5: 198.
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Isolectotype for Polygonum glastifolium Greene
Catalog Number: US 797330
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): J. H. Sandberg, D. T. MacDougal & A. A. Heller
Year Collected: 1892
Locality: On Little Potlatch River, Latah Co., Latah, Idaho, United States, North America
  • Isolectotype: Reveal, J. L. & Atha, D. E. 2010. Brittonia. 62: 255.; Greene, E. L. 1903. Pittonia. 5: 199.; : Reveal, J. L. & Atha, D. E. 2010. Brittonia. 62: 255.; Greene, E. L. 1903. Pittonia. 5: 199.
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Lectotype for Polygonum glastifolium Greene
Catalog Number: US 241481
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): J. H. Sandberg, D. T. MacDougal & A. A. Heller
Year Collected: 1892
Locality: On Little Potlatch River, Latah Co., Latah, Idaho, United States, North America
  • Lectotype: Reveal, J. L. & Atha, D. E. 2010. Brittonia. 62: 255.; Greene, E. L. 1903. Pittonia. 5: 199.; : Reveal, J. L. & Atha, D. E. 2010. Brittonia. 62: 255.; Greene, E. L. 1903. Pittonia. 5: 199.
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Ecology

Habitat

Streambanks, moist or swampy meadows, alpine slopes; 1300-3800m.
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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flowering/Fruiting

Flowering Jul-Sep.
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Uses

Uses: MEDICINE/DRUG

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Wikipedia

Polygonum bistortoides

Polygonum bistortoides (American bistort, western bistort, smokeweed or mountain meadow knotweed), syn. Bistorta bistortoides, is a perennial herb in the genus Polygonum.

It is distributed throughout the Mountain West in North America from Alaska and British Columbia south into California and east into the Rocky Mountains. The plant grows from montane foothills to above the timberline, although plants growing above 7,500 feet are smaller and seldom reach more than 12 inches in height. Plants in other areas may reach over half a meter-1.5 feet tall. The leaves are leathery and up to 40 centimeters long, and are mostly basal on the stem. The dense cylindrical to oblong inflorescence is packed with small white to pinkish flowers, each a few millimeters wide and with protruding stamens.

American bistort was an important food plant used by American Indians living in the Mountain West, and the roots are edible either raw or fire-roasted with a flavor resembling chestnuts. The seeds can be dried and ground into flour and used to make bread. They were also roasted and eaten as a cracked grain.

Western bistort, along the Glacier Point Road. Yosemite National Park, July 2005.


References[edit]

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Notes

Comments

Infrequent specimens of Bistorta bistortoides have basal leaf blades that are lance-ovate and abruptly contracted at the bases, and petioles distinctly winged distally, similar to those of B. officinalis.  

Roots of western bistort were used in soups and stews by the Blackfoot, boiled with meat by the Cherokee, and used in a poultice that was applied to sores and boils by the Miwok (D. E. Moerman 1998).

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