E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Bistorta bistortoides (Pursh) Small
American bistort
Polygonaceae (Buckwheat family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Jeremy Gatten  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #9182)

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Distribution of Bistorta bistortoides
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Species Information

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Perennial herb from a short, thick rhizome; stems erect, solitary to several, simple, 20-70 cm tall.
Basal leaves lanceolate-oblong or oblanceolate, smooth on both sides or slightly hairy below, the blades 5-20 cm long, the stalks long; stem leaves alternate, few, reduced upward, all but the lowest unstalked; stipules brownish, oblique, not ragged, 3-6 cm long.
Inflorescence a solitary, terminal, spike-like, many-flowered raceme, 1-5 cm long, 1.5-2.5 cm wide; perianths 4-5 mm long, white to pinkish, 5-lobed nearly to the base.
Achenes, 3-angled, yellowish-brown, smooth, shiny, 3.5-4 mm long.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Moist to mesic meadows in the subalpine and alpine zones; infrequent in S BC; E to SW AB and S to MT, NM and CA.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Bistorta bistortoides

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 604 1780 2480
Slope Gradient (%) 0 21 70
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
2 130 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
1 3 7
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: AT(2), BAFA(5), BWBS(1), ESSF(5), ICH(1), IMA(7), MH(5), SWB(7)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is alpine tundra & boreal.

Synonyms and Alternate Names

Polygonum bistortoides Pursh

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

Additional Photo Sources

General References