Family: Polygonaceae

buckwheat family

Our New England species in the Polygonaceae are primarily herbs or vines. The leaves are usually alternate on the stem and may also grow in a rosette at the base of the plant. They are simple and may or may not have petioles A distinctive characteristic of most members of the family is a papery or leaf-like sheath around the stem at the point just above where the leaf blade attaches; this is called a stipule. The flowers are arranged singly or in branched inflorescences that grow either at the end of stems or from the points where leaves attach to the stem. The flowers are actinomorphic (radially symmetrical) and usually have both pollen-bearing and ovule-bearing parts. There are 2-6 tepals that may be fused together at the base and may be green, white, pink, red, yellow, or purple; they are attached below the ovary (i.e., the ovary is superior). There are usually 6-9 stamens, sometimes fewer. There is 1 ovary comprised of 2-4 carpels. The fruit is an achene and is sometimes winged.

This Family’s Genera in New England:

Visit this family in the Dichotomous Key