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Vascular Plants of California
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Bistorta bistortoides

Higher Taxonomy
Family: PolygonaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Annual to shrub [tree]. Stem: nodes swollen or not. Leaf: simple, basal or cauline, generally alternate; ocreae present or 0, generally scarious, persistent or not. Inflorescence: flower clusters in axillary to terminal cyme-, panicle-, raceme-, spike-, umbel- or head-like arrangements, entire inflorescence or main inflorescence branches generally subtended by bracts ("inflorescence bracts"); peduncles present or 0; flower clusters in Eriogoneae-Eriogonoideae subtended by involucre of >= 1 free or +- fused, sometimes awn-tipped bracts ("involucre bracts") or, in Polygonoideae and rarely in Eriogonoideae, not (if bracts completely fused, involucre "tubular"); pedicels in Eriogoneae each often subtended by 2 free, transparent, linear bractlets or in Polygonoideae all subtended by 2+ fused, membranous, wide bractlets. Flower: generally bisexual, small, 1--200 per node; perianth parts 2--6, generally in 2 whorls, free or basally fused, generally petal-like, often +- concave adaxially, often darker at midvein, often turning +- red or +- brown in age; stamens [1]3 or 6--9 in 2 whorls; ovary superior, 1-chambered, ovule 1, styles 1--3. Fruit: achenes, included in or exserted from perianth, generally 3-angled, ovoid or elliptic, generally glabrous.
Genera In Family: 48 genera, +- 1200 species: worldwide, especially northern temperate; some cultivated for food (Coccoloba, sea-grape; Fagopyrum, Rheum, Rumex) or ornamental (Antigonon, lovechain; Coccoloba; Muehlenbeckia; Persicaria; Polygonum), a few timbered (Coccoloba; Triplaris). Several (Emex; Fallopia; Persicaria; Polygonum; Rumex) are weeds. Note: Treatment of genera in Eriogonoideae based on monographic work of James L. Reveal. Involucre number throughout is number (1--many) per ultimate grouping, at tips of ultimate branches; flower number is per flower cluster or involucre, unless otherwise stated. Fagopyrum esculentum Moench not naturalized, considered an historical waif (or garden weed +- presently), therefore not treated.
eFlora Treatment Author: Mihai Costea, except as noted
Scientific Editor: Thomas J. Rosatti, Bruce G. Baldwin.
Genus: BistortaView Description 

Etymology: (Latin: bi-, twice, tortus, twisted, alluding to contorted rhizomes)
eFlora Treatment Author: Mihai Costea
Bistorta bistortoides (Pursh) Small
Habit: Perennial herb, rhizomes contorted. Stem: (10)20--70 cm, branches 0. Leaf: generally basal; ocrea cylindric, 10--25(30) mm, brown, margins oblique, glabrous; petiole 10--30(50) mm; blade 4--30 cm, 1--4.8 cm wide, elliptic to lance-oblong or oblanceolate, base tapered to rounded, generally oblique, abaxially hairs 0 or +- white or +- brown, glaucous, adaxially hairs 0, margins entire, tip generally acute to acuminate; cauline leaves 2--4, petioled proximally, sessile distally, gradually reduced upward; blade elliptic or lanceolate to lance-linear. Inflorescence: terminal, spike-like, (10)20--40(50) mm, 10--25 mm wide, short-cylindric to ovoid; peduncle 1--10 cm; pedicel ascending or spreading, 2--10 mm; flowers 1--2. Flower: bisexual; perianth 4--5 mm, not enlarging, bell-shaped, glabrous, white or pale pink, parts 5, fused +- 1/5, oblong, tips obtuse to acute; stamens 5--8, exserted, anthers yellow, elliptic. Fruit: 3--4 mm, 1.2--2 mm wide, obovoid, light- or olive-brown, shiny, smooth. Chromosomes: 2n=24.
Ecology: Wet meadows, streambanks, alpine slopes; Elevation: 1500--3000 m. Bioregional Distribution: CA-FP (uncommon in coastal freshwater marshes, 0--20 m, NCo, n CCo), n SNE; Distribution Outside California: to Alaska, eastern North America. Flowering Time: Jul--Sep
Synonyms: Polygonum bistortoides Pursh
Jepson eFlora Author: Mihai Costea
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)

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Botanical illustration including Bistorta bistortoides

botanical illustration including Bistorta bistortoides

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Citation for this treatment: Mihai Costea 2012, Bistorta bistortoides, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on June 25, 2024.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2024, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on June 25, 2024.

Bistorta bistortoides
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©2008 Steve Matson
Bistorta bistortoides
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©2009 Barry Breckling
Bistorta bistortoides
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©2009 Thomas Stoughton
Bistorta bistortoides
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©2011 Vernon Smith
Bistorta bistortoides
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©2009 Keir Morse

More photos of Bistorta bistortoides
in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Bistorta bistortoides:
CA-FP (uncommon in coastal freshwater marshes, 0--20 m, NCo, n CCo), n SNE
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map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).


Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
View all CCH records
All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).