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Flower spike

Polygonum hydropiper

Common Names: Common or Water-pepper smartweed
Family: Polygonaceae

Entry Author: J.Rogers and C. Westring
Description:  An annual herb with foliage and flowers peppery to the taste
Lanceolate (arrow shaped) with serrated edges and a rounded tip; simple leaves, green with a light red hue; 3-8 cm long.
 Green and usually white margined arranged into a spike, often nodding at tip; or small bright pink to white flowers organized on the reddish stem into racemes. 
 Bears a small, one seeded fruit called an achene; dark brown, 2-3 mm long. 
Stem: Often reddish, sometimes rooting at the lower nodes.  Erect, usually branched, smooth or slightly hairy
Branching Pattern:
Height:  30-45 cm tall
Conditions/Habitat/Kind of Forest: Damp soils, low meadows, pastures, floodplains, and cultivated soils
Range: Native to North America and Europe and widespread throughout. All of continental US except southern Georgia and Florida
Conservation Status-US/ World Wide:  Common 
Uses (Human):  Important food source for birds; used as an herbal remedy for a wide variety of ailments


Aquatic and Wetland Vascular Plants of the Northern Great Plains.  February 23, 2005.  Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center.  Accessed: November 29, 2005.  <>

Chadde, Steve W.  A Great Lakes Wetland Flora (2nd ed.).  Michigan: PocketFlora Press, 2002.

Peterson, Roger Tory, and Margaret McKenny.  Peterson Field Guides:  A field guide to Wildflowers of Northeastern and Northcentral North America.  New York: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1968.

Plants for a Future. June 2004.  Accessed: November 29, 2005.  <>

This page was created by: J. Rogers, Northampton Community College, and K. Rice and C. Westring, Muhlenberg College
Last updated 12/21/05