Pale Smartweed

Pale Smartweed
Pale Smartweed. Polygonum lapathifolia, also Persicaria lapathifolia.
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.
Blooming: August-October
Habitat: Wet fields, shorelines, disturbed areas. The preference for wet habitats is somewhat distinctive for this species.

Comments: 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.