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Alpine Bistort

Persicaria vivipara

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Polygonaceae (Dock)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres tall
Cliffs, mountains, rocky places.

White, 5 petals
The inflorescence is a slender flower spike. White or pink flowers. 8 stamens. Purple anthers.
The fruit is an achene.
An unbranched perennial flower with dark green, linear or lance-shaped leaves which taper at both ends. Leaf margins frequently have downturned margins.
Other Names:
Mountain Bistort, Viviparous Bistort.
Frequency (UK):

Other Information


Persicaria vivipara, also known as alpine bistort or mountain bistort, is a perennial herb native to Europe and Asia. It is a member of the Polygonaceae family and is closely related to plants such as rhubarb and buckwheat. Alpine bistort is characterized by its small, pink or white flowers and narrow, lance-shaped leaves. It is a herbaceous plant that grows in a variety of habitats, including alpine meadows, tundra, and other high-elevation areas. Alpine bistort is not commonly cultivated and is not typically used for ornamental purposes. However, it is valued by some for its medicinal properties and is sometimes used as a natural remedy for a variety of ailments, including digestive disorders and skin conditions.


Alpine Bistort (Persicaria vivipara) is a beautiful perennial plant that is native to the high mountain ranges of Europe. It is known for its unique, delicate pink and white flowers that bloom in the summer months and its lush, green foliage.

The plant thrives in moist, well-drained soils and is often found growing near streams, rivers, and other bodies of water. Alpine Bistort is also well-suited to alpine meadows and high-altitude gardens where it is protected from the harshest elements of the weather.

In terms of its growth habit, Alpine Bistort is a clump-forming plant that spreads slowly over time. It is hardy and long-lived, with a lifespan of up to 10 years or more. The plant typically reaches a height of 15-30 cm, with a spread of up to 30-40 cm.

The foliage of Alpine Bistort is lush and green, with leaves that are oval-shaped and slightly toothed. In the summer months, the plant produces spikes of pink and white flowers that are small and delicate in appearance. These flowers are beloved by pollinators, including bees and butterflies, which are attracted to their sweet nectar.

In terms of care and maintenance, Alpine Bistort is a low-maintenance plant that is easy to grow and care for. It is best grown in a sunny or partially shaded location in moist, well-drained soil. Once established, the plant is relatively drought-tolerant and does not require frequent watering.

Overall, Alpine Bistort is a beautiful and versatile plant that is well-suited to alpine gardens and high-altitude landscapes. With its delicate flowers and lush foliage, it is a wonderful addition to any garden, and its low-maintenance requirements make it an ideal choice for gardeners of all levels of experience. So if you're looking for a beautiful and easy-to-grow plant for your mountain garden, consider adding Alpine Bistort to your collection!

In addition to its ornamental qualities, Alpine Bistort has a number of practical uses. For example, the plant has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including digestive problems, wounds, and skin irritation.

The roots of the plant contain a starch called "polygonatum," which is commonly used as a food ingredient in many cultures. The young shoots and leaves of the plant are also edible and are sometimes used in salads or as a garnish for other dishes.

In terms of its cultural significance, Alpine Bistort has a long history of use in many different cultures. In some cultures, the plant is believed to have spiritual and mystical properties, and is often used in traditional rituals and ceremonies. In other cultures, it is simply valued for its ornamental qualities and is grown in gardens and parks as a symbol of beauty and prosperity.

In terms of its ecological significance, Alpine Bistort is an important plant species in many high-altitude environments. The plant provides a source of food and habitat for a variety of wildlife, including pollinators, small mammals, and birds.

For example, the nectar from the plant's flowers provides a valuable source of food for bees and other pollinators, which are essential for maintaining the health and productivity of many ecosystems. The leaves and stems of the plant also provide shelter and habitat for a variety of small mammals, such as voles and shrews, which are important members of many high-altitude food webs.

In terms of its conservation status, Alpine Bistort is considered to be a species of "Least Concern" by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species. However, like many high-altitude species, it is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including changes in precipitation patterns, temperature fluctuations, and alterations to its natural habitat.

To help conserve this species and other high-altitude plants, it is important to practice sustainable gardening techniques, such as using native plants in your garden and avoiding the use of pesticides and other harmful chemicals. By taking these steps, we can help protect the health and diversity of our high-altitude ecosystems, and ensure the survival of Alpine Bistort and other important plant species for generations to come.

In conclusion, Alpine Bistort is a plant species that is not only beautiful, but also ecologically and culturally significant. By understanding its importance and taking steps to conserve it, we can help ensure its survival and the health of high-altitude ecosystems for many years to come.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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