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Red Bistort

Persicaria amplexicaulis

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Polygonaceae (Dock)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
120 centimetres tall
Riverbanks, roadsides.

Red, 5 petals
Red compact single or double spikes, 5 petals.
Heart-shaped leaves with a pointed tip, similar in appearance to Dock leaves. Upper leaves clasp the stem at the nodes.
Other Names:
Clasping Knotweed, Fleeceflower, Mountain Fleece, Red Mountain Fleeceflower.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Persicaria amplexicaulis, also known as mountain fleece or clasping knotweed, is a perennial herb native to Europe and Asia. It is known for its lance-shaped 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. It prefers moist, well-drained soils and can tolerate partial shade, but it prefers full sun. It is a popular choice for use in water gardens or as a groundcover in sunny areas.


Red Bistort, also known as Persicaria amplexicaulis, is a beautiful and hardy perennial plant that is native to Europe and Asia. It is a popular choice among gardeners due to its striking red flower spikes and ease of care.

Red Bistort grows to a height of 2-3 feet and has a spreading habit that makes it an ideal plant for borders and naturalizing. It has bright green, lance-shaped leaves that are borne on long, arching stems. In summer, the plant produces spikes of small, tubular flowers that are a brilliant red color. The flowers are highly attractive to bees and other pollinators, making Red Bistort an important plant for supporting local wildlife.

This plant is a durable and resilient species, and it is known for its ability to thrive in a variety of soil types and conditions. It prefers moist, well-drained soil and partial to full sun exposure. Although it is tolerant of drought, it is best to keep the soil evenly moist during periods of dry weather. Red Bistort is also quite resistant to pests and diseases, making it an ideal choice for low-maintenance gardens.

When it comes to propagating Red Bistort, division is the best method. This can be done in spring or autumn, and the plant will quickly re-establish itself in its new location. In addition to division, Red Bistort can also be propagated from seed, although this method takes longer to produce a mature plant.

In conclusion, Red Bistort is a stunning and versatile plant that is well worth considering for any garden. Its attractive foliage, red flower spikes, and low-maintenance requirements make it a valuable addition to any landscape.

In addition to its ornamental value, Red Bistort also has a number of medicinal uses. The plant's root has been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments, including digestive problems, skin conditions, and respiratory problems. It is also believed to have anti-inflammatory and astringent properties, making it a popular ingredient in traditional remedies for wounds, burns, and hemorrhoids.

Red Bistort is also a valuable food source for livestock, especially in times of drought when other food sources are scarce. The plant's leaves and stems are high in protein and can be dried and stored for later use. In some parts of the world, the plant's roots are also used as a starchy food source, either roasted or ground into flour.

In landscaping, Red Bistort can be used in a variety of ways to add color and texture to the garden. It is an excellent choice for borders, rock gardens, and as a filler in mixed beds. It can also be used in mass plantings for a striking visual impact, or as an accent plant in a container garden. The plant's arching stems and bright red flowers make it a natural choice for cottage and informal gardens, as well as for meadow and prairie-style landscapes.

When designing a garden that includes Red Bistort, it is important to consider the plant's height and spreading habit. As the plant grows, it can become quite dense, so it is best to give it enough space to spread out without overpowering other plants. Red Bistort also looks best when it is massed in large groups, so consider planting several specimens in one location for the best effect.

Overall, Red Bistort is an excellent choice for gardeners who are looking for a hardy, low-maintenance plant that is both beautiful and functional. Whether you're looking to add a pop of color to your garden or to support local wildlife, Red Bistort is definitely worth considering!

Another important aspect to consider when planting Red Bistort is its long-lasting blooms. While other plants may only bloom for a few weeks each year, Red Bistort produces its vibrant red flowers from mid-summer through early fall. This extended blooming period makes it a valuable addition to the garden, as it provides a long-lasting source of color and interest.

One of the best ways to enjoy the beauty of Red Bistort is to plant it near a pathway or seating area, where you can admire its stunning blooms up close. The plant's arching stems and tubular flowers also make it an ideal choice for cut flower arrangements, so consider planting a few specimens near your home or in a cutting garden.

When it comes to pairing Red Bistort with other plants, there are many options to consider. For a natural, cottage-style garden, pair Red Bistort with other hardy perennials such as rudbeckia, echinacea, and monarda. For a more structured look, pair Red Bistort with grasses such as switchgrass, ornamental grasses, or fountain grass. And for a colorful and vibrant garden, pair Red Bistort with bright, bold blooms like zinnias, sunflowers, or dahlias.

In conclusion, Red Bistort is a valuable and versatile plant that can add color, texture, and interest to any garden. Its long-lasting blooms, attractive foliage, and ease of care make it a must-have for any gardener looking to add a touch of beauty and functionality to their outdoor space.

Facts about Red Bistort

Here are 30 interesting facts about Red Bistort (Polygonum bistortoides):

  1. Scientific Name: Red Bistort is scientifically known as Polygonum bistortoides.

  2. Common Names: It is also commonly called American bistort, Western bistort, or mountain bistort.

  3. Plant Family: Red Bistort belongs to the Polygonaceae family.

  4. Native Range: It is native to western North America, particularly the mountainous regions.

  5. Habitat: Red Bistort can be found in moist meadows, marshes, and streambanks.

  6. Appearance: The plant typically grows 1 to 2 feet tall and has long, slender, and erect stems.

  7. Leaves: The leaves are lance-shaped, alternate, and often have a wrinkled appearance.

  8. Flowers: Red Bistort produces cylindrical spikes of small, pink to reddish-pink flowers.

  9. Bloom Time: It blooms from late spring to early summer.

  10. Pollinators: Bees and butterflies are the primary pollinators of Red Bistort.

  11. Edibility: Historically, indigenous people in North America used the roots of Red Bistort as a food source.

  12. Medicinal Uses: Native American tribes used Red Bistort for various medicinal purposes, including treating wounds and stomach ailments.

  13. Wildlife Attraction: The plant provides habitat and food for various wildlife species, including deer and birds.

  14. Perennial: Red Bistort is a long-lived perennial plant.

  15. Rhizomes: It spreads through rhizomes, forming clumps of vegetation.

  16. Adaptation: Red Bistort is adapted to high-altitude environments and can withstand cold temperatures.

  17. Conservation: In some regions, Red Bistort populations are threatened by habitat loss due to agriculture and development.

  18. Ecological Importance: It plays a role in stabilizing soil in wetland areas.

  19. Landscape Use: Red Bistort is sometimes used in landscaping for its attractive pink flowers.

  20. Drought Tolerance: It has moderate drought tolerance.

  21. Cultural Significance: Some Native American tribes have cultural stories and uses associated with Red Bistort.

  22. Taxonomy: Red Bistort is in the same genus (Polygonum) as Japanese Knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum).

  23. Astringent Properties: The plant has astringent properties, which have been used in traditional medicine.

  24. Herbal Remedies: Red Bistort has been used in herbal remedies for diarrhea and sore throats.

  25. Range: It is primarily found in the western United States and Canada.

  26. Invasive Potential: While not highly invasive, it can become dominant in certain ecological niches.

  27. Cultural Uses: Some indigenous cultures have used Red Bistort in crafting and basketry.

  28. Wildflower Gardens: It is sometimes included in wildflower gardens to attract pollinators.

  29. Seed Propagation: Red Bistort can be propagated from seeds.

  30. Ethnobotanical History: Indigenous peoples in the Pacific Northwest have historical and cultural connections to Red Bistort, including its use in traditional ceremonies and rituals.


Red Bistort filmed in Chorley, Lancashire on the 23rd August 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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