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Common Bistort

Persicaria bistorta

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Polygonaceae (Dock)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
60 centimetres tall
Fields, grassland, meadows, riverbanks, roadsides, woodland.

Pink, 5 petals
Pink compact spike, 5 petals.
A black shiny nut.
Slender triangular-shaped leaves on long winged stalks. The leaves on the stem are arrow-shaped.
Other Names:
Adderwort, Dragonwort, Easter Giant, Easter Giants, Easter Ledge, Easter Man-giant, English Serpentary, Gentle Dock, Great Bistort, Meadow Bistort, Oderwort, Osterick Oysterloit, Passion Dock, Patience Dock, Patient Dock, Pink Pokers, Poor Man's Cabbage, Pudding Duck, Pudding Grass, Red Legs, Snakeweed, Sweet Dock, Twice-writhen.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Persicaria bistorta, also known as bistort or snakeweed, is a perennial herb native to Europe and Asia. It is known for its long, slender leaves and clusters of small pink or white flowers. The plant has a number of medicinal properties and has been used traditionally to treat a variety of ailments, including diarrhea, wounds, and sore throat. It is also used as a natural dye for textiles. The plant is relatively easy to grow and is often found in gardens or naturalized areas.


Persicaria bistorta, commonly known as Common Bistort, is a flowering plant that belongs to the Polygonaceae family. It is a perennial plant that is native to Eurasia and can be found growing in the wild in a range of habitats such as meadows, bogs, and along stream banks.

The plant is highly valued for its beauty and versatility. It produces spikes of small, delicate pink or rose-colored flowers that bloom from June to August. The flowers are highly attractive to pollinators, making it a great choice for a wildflower garden or for planting in areas where you want to encourage wildlife.

In addition to its ornamental value, Common Bistort has a long history of use in traditional medicine. The plant's roots contain compounds that have been used to treat a range of conditions, including digestive issues, wounds, and skin irritations.

Common Bistort is also a very hardy and low-maintenance plant that can tolerate a range of growing conditions. It prefers moist, fertile soil and partial shade, but it can also grow in full sun and drier conditions. The plant can reach a height of up to 90 cm, making it an ideal choice for adding height and interest to your garden.

If you are looking for a versatile and attractive plant for your garden, Common Bistort is an excellent choice. Whether you are planting it for its ornamental value, to attract wildlife, or for its medicinal properties, this plant is sure to add beauty and value to your garden.

In addition to its ornamental and medicinal uses, Common Bistort is also edible. The young shoots and leaves can be harvested in spring and used in salads, sandwiches, or as a cooked green. The plant's rhizomes can also be harvested in autumn and used as a starchy root vegetable, similar to potatoes.

Another advantage of Common Bistort is its tolerance to deer and other herbivores. Unlike many other garden plants, Common Bistort is generally left alone by deer, rabbits, and other browsing animals, making it an ideal choice for gardeners in areas with a high population of these animals.

When planting Common Bistort, it is important to give it plenty of room to spread. The plant spreads through rhizomes, and can quickly form large colonies if not kept in check. It is recommended to plant Common Bistort in a designated area or to contain it within a raised bed or container.

Overall, Common Bistort is a highly versatile and attractive plant that is well worth considering for your garden. Whether you are planting it for its ornamental value, its medicinal properties, or for its edible uses, this plant is sure to provide you with many years of enjoyment.

In addition to its ornamental and culinary uses, Common Bistort has also been used in landscaping and erosion control. Its sturdy root system and ability to grow in a range of soils and conditions make it an ideal choice for stabilizing slopes and preventing erosion in difficult growing areas.

Another interesting fact about Common Bistort is that its scientific name, Persicaria bistorta, is derived from the Latin word "persicaria" which means "peach-like", referring to the shape of the leaves. The species name "bistorta" comes from the Latin word "bistortus" which means "two twisted", referring to the plant's rhizomes.

If you are looking to cultivate Common Bistort in your garden, it is relatively easy to grow from seed or by dividing established clumps. Seeds can be sown directly in the ground in spring or autumn, or started in pots and then transplanted into the garden. When dividing clumps, it is important to ensure that each division has a good root system and plenty of healthy leaves.

In terms of care, Common Bistort is a low-maintenance plant that requires minimal attention. Once established, it can be left to grow on its own, although it may benefit from a light trim after flowering to keep it tidy and promote new growth.

In conclusion, Common Bistort is a versatile, attractive, and highly valuable plant that is well worth considering for your garden. Whether you are planting it for its ornamental value, its medicinal properties, or its usefulness in landscaping and erosion control, this plant is sure to provide you with many years of enjoyment.


Common Bistort filmed in several locations throughout mid-to-late 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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