Smartweed-The Peppery Herb

Smartweed, polygonum hydropiper, has long been known for its hot, peppery, biting flavor awnd has been used as a seasoning for thousands of years.

Smartweed, polygonum hydropiper, has long been known for its hot, biting, peppery flavor, and has been used as a seasoning for thousands of years. A native plant of both Eurasia and America, smartweed grows where the soil is damp, along streambanks, and in wet ditches mostly in central and northeastern states.

Smartweed is an annual plant with reddish, jointed stems and tiny green flowers with white, pink or yellow margins that droop somewhat and bloom from June through November.

Because smartweed is so fond of streamsides, it has been nicknamed water pepper, while the joints in the stem has produced the nickname, red knees, and biting knotweed. If you ever taste smartweed, you'll realize instantly how the plant got its name. Most animals avoid the plant because of its burning flavor!



An assortment of strange powers have been ascribed to the plant. If a bit of smartweed was tucked beneath a horses saddle, it was said to keep the horse from feeling hungry or thirsty over a long ride. And people used to strew pieces of the plant on the floor of their house to get rid of fleas. Sheets were soaked in water that had smartweed boiled in it, to help cholera victims, who were then wrapped in the sheet. Rheumatism sufferers would add the plant to their bath water to get some pain relief.

Research indicates that smartweed extracts have hemostatic properties, and that they lower the blood pressure. Studies on animals have also shown that the plant does indeed have contraceptive effects, as people have claimed.

Smartweed is astringent, diaphoretic, and diuretic. It is effective as an extract against coughs and colds, and crushing the fresh herb, and using it as a plaster for congestion is common practice. Some people claim that the crushed herb relieves many different kinds of pain. The juice of the plant, mixed with a bit of water, is effective on sores that have developed pus.

Smartweed is a smart weed to get to know.

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