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Common (vernacular) names applied to California vascular plants

compiled by Elizabeth Painter

up to date as of May 1, 2016

Common names (also referred to as vernacular names) are applied differently at different times and places by different users. This list is compiled from many sources and is intended to be as comprehensive as possible. It is not intended to indicate which common name is correct or preferred. Please send comments about this page to Elizabeth Painter (

TaxonBistorta bistortoides
Family common name(s)buckwheat; smartweed; knotweed
Genus common name(s)bistorta
Species common name(s)western bistort; American bistort; western knotweed; miner's toes
Common name(s) generally applied to other taxa or multiple taxabistort, knotweed, knot-weed, knot weed, dirty socks are applied to multiple Polygonaceae taxa; adder-wort, adderwort, adder's-wort, adder's wort, adderswort, western snakeweed, western snake-weed, snakeweed, snake-weed, snake weed, smokeweed, dragonwort, lady's-thumb, lady's thumb, lady's-thumb, ladysthumb are applied to taxa in multiple families
NotesAmerican is a proper name, so upper case preferable
Synonymy: The Jepson Manual (1993), FNA, PLANTS, etcPolygonum bistortoides Pursh
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