Polygonaceae, the buckwheat family.
Plant: Erect, smooth, branching stems, 2'-4' high, with lanceolate leaves arising from sheathed nodes, and often nodding spikes of tiny white to pale pink flowers.
Flowers: White to pink on long, nodding spikes 1"-3". Individual florets are tiny, about 1/8", with 4-6 petal-like sepals.
Leaves: Alternate, simple, lanceolate, to 6". Short-stalked to sessile, arising from sheathed nodes, which are typical of the family. The sheathes of this species are mostly typically hairless, which distinguishes this species from some similar smartweeds.
Fruit: A two-sided, concave seed.
Habitat: Wet fields, shorelines, disturbed areas. The preference for wet habitats is somewhat distinctive for this species.
This plant is known by a great many common names, including Pale Smartweed,
Curly-top Smartweed or Knotweed, Nodding Smartweed, Dock-leaf Smartweed;
and several scientific names as well. The lapathifolia species
name seems best established; however the genus polygonum has been
divided by some botanists into three additional genera, and this seems
to be supported by recent genetic studies. Under this system the
scientific name is Persicaria lapathifolia.
The species is highly variable. The most definitive form is characterized
by the hairless node sheathes, smooth stems, the nodding flower spikes,
and the preference for wet habitats.
The seeds of this and other smartweeds are relatively large, and eaten by
a variety of birds.
Where to find it:
One stand is by the shore of the pond near the lodge.