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Polygonum bistortoides (American bistort)
Beckers, Eric

Polygonum bistortoides

Polygonum bistortoides Pursh

American Bistort, Western Bistort

Polygonaceae (Buckwheat Family)

Synonym(s): Bistorta bistortoides, Persicaria bistortoides, Polygonum bistortoides var. linearifolium, Polygonum bistortoides var. oblongifolium, Polygonum cephalophorum, Polygonum glastifolium, Polygonum vulcanicum

USDA Symbol: POBI6

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

At tops of slender, erect, reddish stems bloom dense white or pale pink flower clusters.

One of the most common mountain wildflowers, sometimes covering meadows with thousands of clusters of white flowers. The stout roots were once prepared by Native Americans for food.


From the Image Gallery

16 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Fruit Type: Achene
Size Notes: Up to about 30 inches tall.
Leaf: Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep


USA: AZ , CA , CO , ID , MT , NM , NV , OR , UT , WA , WY
Canada: AB , BC
Native Distribution: Western Canada southward to southern California, Arizona, and New Mexico.
Native Habitat: Moist mountain meadows or along mountain streams.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low


Conspicuous Flowers: yes

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Mountain Fritillary
(Boloria alaskensis)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.


Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 30 - Calflora (2018) Calflora
Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter 1995 VOL. 12, NO.5 - Water Recycling Utilizing Architecture at the Wildflower Center, Education Direc...

Additional resources

USDA: Find Polygonum bistortoides in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Polygonum bistortoides in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Polygonum bistortoides


Record Modified: 2023-05-02
Research By: TWC Staff

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