This is a blog about the pursuits of Naturalist Alan Russo to incorporate all things Natural, especially Plants, into his daily life. Living close to Nature has always been a passion of mine and I try, with natures help, to live a Healthy lifestyle for myself and for the Earth.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Lady's Thumb

Lady's Thumb Flower Spike
 Lady's thumb is another one of those plants that many people recognize but considered a "weed". It can be quite invasive and will take over a garden in no time flat if allowed to go to seed but I think it is a very pretty plant when it is naturally on the landscape.
 Lady's Thumb ( Polygonum persicaria ) is a member of the Smartweed or Buckwheat family and there are many species the have similar characteristics. Called Smartweed because some of the species are sour in taste, though Lady's thumb itself lacks that characteristic. The "Thumb" part of the name comes from the prominent reddish brown triangle mark in the center of each leaf that looks like a thumb print.
"Thumb" print on the leaves
Another prominent feature are the Reddish "rings" around the stem where the leaves attach, and
Reddish Rings around stem
of course, the most prominent feature is the pink flower spikes that are so familiar in the summer time. (see first photo)
 The leaves flowers and stems of the Lady's Thumb plant are Edible. I remember when I first learned that the flower spikes were edible and I used to use them as a trail nibble when takings kids on hikes though the woods. Of course most of them thought I was crazy but others were brave enough to try them. Now that I have used the plant more extensively, the flowers are my least favorite part. The leaves don't have a strong taste so it is a good Wild Edible to show those who are wary of eating wild things.
 I have read that some American Indians used the plant as medicine but I have no experience with the medicinal qualities of this plant.

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