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Persicaria maculosa

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Polygonaceae (Dock)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
90 centimetres tall
Ditches, fields, gardens, lawns, meadows, roadsides, wasteland, waterside, wetland.

Pink, 4 petals
The flowers of Redleg (Persicaria maculosa) are small and unobtrusive, typically appearing in slender spikes. They come in shades of pink or white, often with a delicate, subtle beauty. These flowers add a touch of charm to the plant's otherwise inconspicuous appearance. The plant's unassuming flowers play an important role in attracting pollinators such as bees and butterflies, contributing to the overall biodiversity of wetland and riparian ecosystems where Redleg is commonly found.
The fruit of Redleg (Persicaria maculosa) is a small and inconspicuous seed produced in clusters. These seeds are typically dark brown or black and are enclosed within the plant's tiny, three-angled fruit capsules. The fruit is not especially showy, and its main function is for reproduction, facilitating the spread of the plant. Redleg's ability to produce a substantial amount of seeds contributes to its reputation as an invasive plant species in some regions, where it can quickly colonize and dominate disturbed or wetland environments.
Redleg (Persicaria maculosa) exhibits lance-shaped leaves that can vary in colour from green to reddish-green. These leaves have a simple, elongated structure with a pointed tip and are often dotted with tiny red or purple spots. The leaves of Redleg add to the plant's distinctive appearance, offering a unique combination of hues and shapes. These leaves are not only visually interesting but also play a vital role in photosynthesis, enabling the plant to produce energy from sunlight. In some regions, the leaves are also utilised for their tangy taste in culinary applications, though they should be consumed in moderation due to their oxalic acid content.
Redleg (Persicaria maculosa) is not typically known for its aroma. The plant's primary characteristics lie in its visual attributes, such as the red or pinkish stems, mottled leaves, and small, delicate flowers. While it may have a very subtle, earthy, or herbal scent, it is not renowned for its fragrance. Instead, Redleg's appeal mainly lies in its appearance and ecological significance, particularly in wetland and riparian ecosystems.
Other Names:
Heartweed, Jesus Plant, Lady's Thumb, Lady's Thumb Smartweed, Persicaria, Redshank, Redshank Dock, Smartweed, Spotted Knotweed, Spotted Lady's Thumb, Spotted Smartweed, Willow Weed.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Persicaria maculosa, also known as lady's thumb or spotted lady's thumb, is a species of flowering plant in the Polygonaceae family. It is native to Europe and Asia, but is now found in many parts of the world as a common weed. The plant has reddish-purple stems and leaves that have a distinctive dark spot or thumbprint-shaped marking on them. The small, pink or white flowers bloom in clusters at the top of the stems. The plant is considered an invasive weed in many areas and is known for spreading rapidly and outcompeting native plants. It is often found in disturbed areas such as gardens, lawns, and along roadsides. The plant is edible and can be used in salads, sandwiches, and as a pot herb. It is also used in traditional medicine for various ailments.


Redleg, scientifically known as Persicaria maculosa, is a common annual weed that is native to Europe and has now spread to various parts of the world. It is also commonly referred to as "Lady's thumb" due to the dark triangular spot on its leaves that resembles a thumbprint. Redleg is a member of the knotweed family, Polygonaceae, and is known for its invasive nature, quick growth, and its ability to thrive in disturbed areas.

Appearance and Growth Pattern

Redleg is an erect, branching weed that can grow up to 3 feet tall. The leaves are alternate, lance-shaped, and can range from 1 to 4 inches in length. The most distinctive feature of the leaves is the dark blotch that appears on the center of each leaf. The flowers of Redleg are small, pink or white in color and arranged in clusters on spikes that emerge from the leaf axils. The plant blooms from early summer to early fall and produces many small seeds that can remain viable in the soil for several years.

Habitat and Distribution

Redleg can grow in a wide range of soils, from sandy to heavy clay, and it prefers moist to wet conditions. The plant is commonly found in disturbed areas such as lawns, gardens, fields, waste areas, and along roadsides. It is considered an invasive weed in many parts of the world, including North America, where it was introduced in the 19th century. Redleg can quickly colonize disturbed sites, creating dense stands that outcompete native vegetation.

Ecological Impacts

Redleg is known to have a negative impact on native plant communities and can reduce biodiversity. The plant can also have negative effects on agriculture and horticulture, as it competes with crops and ornamental plants. Redleg has a high seed production rate, which enables it to quickly colonize disturbed areas and create monocultures. Additionally, the plant can alter soil chemistry and nutrient availability, which can further negatively impact surrounding plants.

Control Measures

Prevention is key to controlling Redleg, as it is difficult to eradicate once it has established. It is important to properly manage soil disturbance and avoid creating conditions that favor Redleg growth. For example, reducing soil compaction, maintaining good drainage, and minimizing soil disturbance can help prevent Redleg from taking hold. Additionally, hand-pulling can be effective for small infestations. Herbicides can also be used for larger infestations, but care must be taken to avoid harming desirable plants.

Redleg is a common weed that is known for its invasive nature, quick growth, and ability to thrive in disturbed areas. While it may not be the most harmful of invasive species, it can have a negative impact on native plant communities and agriculture. By taking steps to prevent its establishment and using appropriate control measures, we can help reduce the negative impact of Redleg and other invasive species.

More Information

Redleg has been used in traditional medicine for various purposes. The leaves and stem of the plant contain compounds such as flavonoids, tannins, and phenolic acids that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. These properties have been utilized in herbal medicine to treat various conditions such as skin infections, diarrhea, and hemorrhoids.

Redleg has also been used as a food source in some parts of the world. The young leaves and stems are edible and have a slightly sour, tangy flavor. They can be consumed raw in salads or cooked as a vegetable. In Japan, the young shoots of Redleg are used as a vegetable in traditional dishes.

While Redleg may have some potential benefits, it is important to be cautious when using it for any purpose. The plant is known to contain oxalic acid, which can be toxic if consumed in large amounts. Additionally, it is important to properly identify the plant before consuming it, as there are many other plants that resemble Redleg.

Redleg is a common weed that is known for its invasive nature and negative impact on native plant communities and agriculture. While it has been used in traditional medicine and as a food source, it is important to be cautious and properly identify the plant before using it for any purpose. By taking steps to prevent its establishment and using appropriate control measures, we can help reduce the negative impact of Redleg and other invasive species.

In addition to its ecological and medicinal uses, Redleg has also been studied for its potential as a bioindicator. Bioindicators are species that are used to monitor the health of an ecosystem, as they are sensitive to changes in environmental conditions. Redleg has been found to be a good bioindicator of heavy metal pollution, as it accumulates heavy metals in its tissues. In one study, Redleg was used to monitor the levels of heavy metals in the soil of an industrial site, and it was found that the plant accumulated high levels of lead and cadmium in its tissues, indicating that the site was contaminated with these metals.

Redleg has also been studied for its allelopathic properties. Allelopathy is the ability of a plant to release chemicals that inhibit the growth of other plants. Redleg has been found to release allelopathic compounds that can inhibit the germination and growth of other plant species. In one study, it was found that the allelopathic activity of Redleg increased with increasing soil moisture, suggesting that the plant may use this mechanism to outcompete other plants in moist environments.

In conclusion, Redleg is a common weed that has a range of ecological, medicinal, and potential industrial uses. While it is considered an invasive species in many parts of the world, it also has potential benefits that are worth exploring. By further studying the properties of Redleg, we may be able to find new ways to utilize this plant and better understand its impact on the environment.

30 Redleg Facts

Redleg (Persicaria maculosa) is a common wild plant that can be found in various parts of the world. Here are 30 facts about Redleg:

  1. Redleg, also known as "Redshank," is a species of the genus Persicaria.

  2. It is a member of the Polygonaceae family, which includes a variety of flowering plants.

  3. Redleg is a herbaceous annual plant, meaning it completes its life cycle in one year.

  4. The scientific name, Persicaria maculosa, derives from "persicus" meaning "Persian" and "maculosus" meaning "spotted," referring to its red-spotted stems.

  5. Redleg typically grows in damp, wet, or muddy areas, making it a common sight near ponds, rivers, and marshes.

  6. The plant is characterized by its reddish or pinkish stems, which are often spotted or mottled.

  7. Its leaves are lance-shaped and can be green to reddish-green.

  8. Redleg produces small, inconspicuous pink or white flowers in slender spikes.

  9. The plant is known for its invasive nature and can quickly cover large areas.

  10. Redleg is native to Europe and Asia but has become naturalized in various parts of North America.

  11. It is considered a weed in many regions due to its ability to outcompete native plants.

  12. Redleg is a favorite food source for waterfowl, which contributes to its dispersal.

  13. The plant is also known to be a valuable nectar source for pollinators like bees and butterflies.

  14. Redleg is edible and has a slightly tangy or sour taste due to its oxalic acid content.

  15. In traditional herbal medicine, Redleg has been used to treat various ailments, although its efficacy is debated.

  16. Some people use Redleg leaves externally for minor skin irritations and burns.

  17. The plant has been used in the past to make a red dye.

  18. Redleg's presence can indicate soil that is high in organic matter and often waterlogged.

  19. It can be difficult to eradicate due to its ability to regenerate from even small root fragments.

  20. Redleg is often confused with other similar-looking Persicaria species, such as Japanese knotweed (Persicaria japonica).

  21. Redleg is a significant food source for various aquatic insects and snails.

  22. In some regions, Redleg has been considered a valuable forage plant for livestock.

  23. It is a pioneer species, meaning it can be one of the first plants to colonize disturbed or bare soil.

  24. The plant has the ability to adapt to a wide range of environmental conditions.

  25. Redleg has become a noxious weed in agricultural areas, reducing crop yields.

  26. Invasive populations of Redleg can change the composition of native plant communities.

  27. It is often considered a nuisance by gardeners due to its rapid growth and ability to choke out other plants.

  28. Redleg can be controlled through various methods, including herbicides and manual removal.

  29. The plant's seedlings are often dispersed by water, allowing it to colonize new areas.

  30. The impact of Redleg on local ecosystems varies, with some areas experiencing more significant negative effects than others.


Redleg filmed at St. Peter's Church in Little Rissington, Gloucestershire on the 26th June 2023.


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