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Plant Profile: Snakeweed (Polygonum bistorta aka Persicaria bistorta)

Polygonum bistortaSnakeweed is a clump forming herbaceous perennial native to Europe and western and central Asia where it grows near water and damp meadows. It is a member of the knotweed family, Polygonaceae, that includes rhubarb, buckwheat and some infamous weeds. The botanical name, Persicaria bistorta, is more recently used for this plant. The medium green paddle-like basal leaves are four to six inches long, and have wavy margins and a white midrib. The ¼ inch pink flowers are carried on stalks twenty four to thirty inches tall in densely packed spikes four to five inches long. The long stamens protrude from the flowers giving the spike a fuzzy, bottle brush appearance. Flowers bloom for a long time from late spring to early summer and are good cut flowers. An excellent choice for a ground cover, front of the border, rock garden or bog garden.The genus name ,Polygonum, comes from the Greek words poly meaning many and goni meaning kneew or joint and refers to the swollen nodes on the stems of some species. The genus name, Persicaria, comes from the Latin words persica meaning peach-like, and sagitta meaning arrow, and refers to appearance of the leaf. The specific epithet, bistorta, comes from Latin words bis meaning twice and torta meaning twisted and refers to the twice twisted root.

Type: Herbaceous perennial

Bloom:Pink, ¼ inch wide flowers with protruding stamens in densely packed spikes four to five inches long on stems twenty four to thirty inches tall from late spring to early summer.

Size: 18-30” H x 30” W

Light: Part shade

Soil: Humus rich, moist

Hardiness: Zones 3-8

Care: Low maintenance

Pests and Diseases: None of significance

Propagation: Division in spring or fall

Companion plants: Hosta, Lobelia cardinalis, Lobelia siphilitica, Primula, Trollius

Outstanding Selection: ‘Superbum’ (larger size and bigger flowers than species)