Persicaria punctata

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Persicaria punctata
Pers punc.jpg
Photo by Matthew Merritt, Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Tracheophyta- Vascular plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Order: Caryophyllanae
Family: Polygonaceae
Genus: Persicaria
Species: P. punctata
Binomial name
Persicaria punctata
(Elliott) Small
Pers punc dist.jpg
Natural range of Persicaria punctata from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common name: Dotted smartweed[1]

Taxonomic notes

Synonyms: Persicaria punctata (Elliott) Small var. punctata; Polygonum punctatum Elliott; Polygonum punctatum Elliott var. punctatum; Persicaria punctata (Elliott) Small var. leptostachya (Meisner) Small; Polygonum punctatum Elliott var. leptostachyum (Meisner) Small; Polygonum punctatum var. parvum Marie-Victorin & Rousseau; Polygonum punctatum Elliott var. confertiflorum (Meisner) Fassett.[1]

The species name "punctata" is derived from Latin, meaning dotted. This refers to the dotted glands of the flowers.[2]


A description of Persicaria punctata is provided in The Flora of North America. The Radford Flora describes it as an "annual or rhizomatous perennial with erect, terete, glabrous or short-strigose stems. Leaves are glabrous to short-strigose, 6-15 cm long, 1-3 cm wide, tapered to petioles 2-20 mm long; ocreae strigose, 1-2 cm long, cilia 1-8 mm long. Racemes straight or arching, densely to very loosely flowered. Calyx white or greenish, rarely tinged with red or pink, conspicuously glandular-punctate. Nutlets black, glossy, trigonous or biconvex, 2.5-3 mm long."[3]


P. punctata is found throughout most of the United States, ranging from Novia Scotia, Ontario, and British Columbia, south to Florida, Texas, and California, and even extending into the New World Tropics.[1] It is introduced instead of being native in Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and Hawaii.[4]



P. punctata is found in wet areas such as floodplain forests, swamps, seeps, pond shores, and drainage ditches.[5] In the Coastal Plain in Florida, P. punctata has been found in wet margins of wax myrtle thickets.[6] It prefers full to partial sun in mucky soil rich in organic matter and will tolerate shallow standing water.[5]


This species flowers July through November[1]

Seed dispersal

The seeds are not adapted for dispersal other than floating in water, however, it is postulated to be transported by mud on the feet of water birds.[7]

Herbivory and toxicology

Persicaria punctata has been observed to host plant bugs from the Miridae family such as Lygus lineolaris.[8] The seeds are eaten by ducks and various songbirds.[5]

Conservation, cultivation, and restoration

Cultural use

Historically, the Chippewa used the leaves and flowers to treat stomach pain, and the Houma used roots to treat joint pain.[9]

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Weakley, A.S. 2015. Flora of the southern and mid-atlantic states. Working Draft of 21 May 2015. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
  2. [[1]]Plants of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden. Accessed: February 20, 2016
  3. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Radford et al 1964
  4. [[2]] Wildflowers of the United States. Accessed: February 20, 2016
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 [[3]]Illinois Wildflowers. Accessed: February 20, 2016
  6. Florida State University Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium database. URL: Last accessed: November 2015. Collectors: Cecil R. Slaughter. States and Counties: Florida: St. Johns, Volusia. Compiled by Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.
  7. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named cabi
  8. [4]
  9. [[5]]Go Botany. Accessed: February 20, 2016