Polygonum coccineum

Polygonaceae - Knotweed Family

Smartweed is a native aquatic plant of North America, and can be found throughout the continent in suitable habitats. It grows in moist soil or shallow water and can reach a height of 3 feet. The leaves are alternating, 4 inches long, and lance shaped.1 The stem of Smartweed has no branches, but becomes thicker at nodes where the stem meets the leaf. The Smartweed blooms pointed flowers that are linear in form and very slender. The flowers of Smartweed can be pink, white, or red, giving nice color to an aquatic environment. The flowers bloom from July to September.2

Smartweed is an essential part in any lake or pond’s biodiversity. This is so because, in its aquatic form, it provides shelter for small organisms that live in the water. These organisms then provide food for larger prey like fish and amphibians, which contribute to the health of the system.1

Smartweed seeds are an excellent source of food for many species of waterfowl and songbirds. These species include ducks, geese, bobwhites, mourning doves, ring necked pheasants, species of rails, and 30 non-game species.4 When in large dense quantities, the smartweed can serve also as cover for young waterfowl, marsh birds, and wintering pheasants. The seeds are also a favorite snack of certain mammals.3

References and Useful Websites:
1Auquaplant - Texas A&M University
2Ohio Perennial and Biennial Weed Guide - Ohio State University
3Garden Guides

This page was prepared by Robert George, BIO 102, Fall 2011

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