Bistorta vivipara (L.) Delarbre

alpine bistort

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New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Alpine bistort is extremely rare in New England, with a couple of populations known in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont in moist to wet, high-elevation alpine sites such as ravines, rock slides, ledges, plateaus and snowbanks. It is called "vivipara" (or "live-bearing") because it produces flowers and fruits on the upper half of its inflorescence and bulbils on the lower half.

Habitat

Alpine or subalpine zones, ridges or ledges

Characteristics

Habitat
  • terrestrial
  • wetlands
New England state
  • Maine
  • New Hampshire
  • Vermont
Flower petal color
  • green to brown
  • pink to red
  • white
Leaf type
the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
Leaf arrangement
  • alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
  • basal: the leaves are growing only at the base of the plant
Leaf blade edges
the edge of the leaf blade is entire (has no teeth or lobes)
Flower symmetry
there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
Number of sepals, petals or tepals
there are five petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
Fusion of sepals and petals
the petals or the sepals are fused into a cup or tube
Stamen number
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
Fruit type (general)
the fruit is dry but does not split open when ripe
Fruit length
2.2–3.3 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Clonal plantlets
    Bulbils
    the plant does not appear to have bulbils
    Bulblets replace flowers
    there are bulblets where some or all of the flowers would normally be located
  • Flowers
    Anther opening
    the anthers have narrow slits or furrows that run lengthwise along the anthers
    Anther spurs
    the anthers do not have spurs on them
    Calyx growth after flowering
    the calyx does not grow to cover or partially cover the fruit
    Carpels fused
    the carpels are fused to one another
    Corolla palate
    no
    Corona lobe length
    0 mm
    Epicalyx
    the flower does not have an epicalyx
    Epicalyx number of parts
    0
    Filament surface
    the filament is smooth, with no hairs or scales
    Flower description
    the flower has a superior ovary, and lacks a hypanthium
    Flower number
    1–2
    Flower petal color
    • green to brown
    • pink to red
    • white
    Flower reproductive parts
    • the flower has both pollen- and seed-producing parts
    • the flower has either only pollen- or only seed-producing parts
    Flower symmetry
    there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
    Flowers sunken into stem
    no
    Form of style
    • the flower has two or more completely separate styles
    • the style is branched above the base
    • the style is knob-like at the tip, and unbranched
    Fusion of sepals and petals
    the petals or the sepals are fused into a cup or tube
    Horns in hoods (Asclepias)
    NA
    Hypanthium
    • the flower does not have a hypanthium
    • the flower has a hypanthium
    Inflorescence one-sided
    the flowers are arrayed in a spiral around the inflorescence axis or branches, or occur singly, or in several ranks
    Inner tepals (Rumex)
    NA
    Nectar spur
    the flower has no nectar spurs
    Number of pistils
    1
    Number of sepals, petals or tepals
    there are five petals, sepals, or tepals in the flower
    Number of styles
    3
    Ovary position
    the ovary is above the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
    Petal and sepal arrangement
    the flower includes two cycles of petal- or sepal-like structures
    Petal and sepal colors
    • green to brown
    • pink to red
    • white
    Petal appearance
    the petals are thin and delicate, and pigmented (colored other than green or brown)
    Petal folds or pleats
    the petals of the flower do not have folds or plaits
    Petal hairs (Viola)
    NA
    Petal number
    2
    Petal tips (Cuscuta)
    NA
    Reproductive system
    all the flowers have both carpels and stamens (synoecious)
    Scales inside corolla
    no
    Sepal and petal color
    the petals and sepals are similar
    Sepal appearance
    the sepals resemble petals in color and texture
    Sepal appendages
    the sepals do not have appendages on them
    Sepal appendages (Oenothera)
    NA
    Sepal color
    • green to brown
    • pink to red
    • white
    Sepal number
    3
    Sepals fused only to sepals
    the sepals are fused to each other (not other flower parts), at least near their bases
    Stamen attachment
    • the stamens are attached at or near the bases of the petals or tepals
    • the stamens are not attached to the petals or tepals
    Stamen number
    • 5
    • 6
    • 7
    • 8
    Stamen position relative to petals
    NA
    Stamens fused
    • the stamens are attached to one another at or near their bases
    • the stamens are not attached to one another
    Style petal-like
    the styles are not petal-like
    Umbel flower reproductive parts
    NA
    Upper lip of bilabiate corolla
    NA
  • Fruits or seeds
    Achene relative orientation
    the achenes are perpendicular to the plane of the perianth (vertical)
    Achene surface (Polygonum)
    NA
    Achene type
    the fruit is an achene (dry, indehiscent, and usually one-seeded)
    Berry color
    NA
    Capsule color (Viola)
    NA
    Capsule ribs
    NA
    Capsule splitting
    NA
    Fruit (pyxis) dehiscence
    NA
    Fruit features (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Fruit length
    2.2–3.3 mm
    Fruit locules
    one
    Fruit type (general)
    the fruit is dry but does not split open when ripe
    Fruit type (specific)
    the fruit is an achene (dry, usually one-seeded, does not separate or split open at maturity)
    Legumes (Fabaceae)
    NA
    Mericarp length
    0 mm
    Mericarp segment shape (Desmodium)
    NA
    Other markings on berry
    NA
    Ovary stipe
    the ovary or fruit does not have a stipe
    Placenta arrangement
    the plant has basal placentation, where one or a few ovules develop at the base of a simple or compound ovary
    Rows of seeds in fruit (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Schizocarpic fruit compression
    NA
    Schizocarpic fruit segments
    0
    Septum in fruit (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Wings on fruit
    the fruit does not have wings on it
    prickles on fruits
    the fruits do not have thorn-like defensive structures
  • Glands or sap
    Glands on leaf blade
    the leaf blades do not have glandular dots or scales
    Sap
    the sap is clear and watery
    Sap color
    the sap is clear
  • Growth form
    Growth form
    the plant is an herb (it has self-supporting stems)
    Horizontal rooting stem
    the plant does not have stolons
    Lifespan
    the plant lives more than two years
    Parasitism
    the plant is not parasitic
    Plant color
    the leaves or young stems of the plant are green
    Plants darken when dry
    no
    Spines on plant
    the plant has no spines
    Underground organs
    the plant has a rhizome (a horizontal underground stem with roots growing from it)
  • Leaves
    Bracteole number (Apiaceae)
    0
    Bracts in plantain (Plantago)
    NA
    Final leaf segment length (compound lvs only)
    0 mm
    Final leaf segment length to width ratio (compound lvs only)
    0
    Hairs on underside of leaf
    the underside of the leaf is fuzzy or hairy
    Leaf arrangement
    • alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
    • basal: the leaves are growing only at the base of the plant
    Leaf blade base
    • the leaf has a distinct leaf stalk (petiole)
    • the leaf has no stalk
    Leaf blade base shape
    • the base of the leaf blade is cordate (heart-shaped, has rounded lobes at the base)
    • the base of the leaf blade is cuneate (wedge-shaped, tapers to the base with relatively straight, converging edges), or narrow
    • the base of the leaf blade is rounded
    Leaf blade edges
    the edge of the leaf blade is entire (has no teeth or lobes)
    Leaf blade flatness
    the edges of the leaf are curled under
    Leaf blade length
    10–100 mm
    Leaf blade shape
    • the leaf blade is lanceolate (lance-shaped; widest below the middle and tapering at both ends)
    • the leaf blade is linear (very narrow with more or less parallel sides)
    • the leaf blade is oblong (rectangular but with rounded ends)
    • the leaf blade is ovate (widest below the middle and broadly tapering at both ends)
    Leaf blade surface colors
    the upper side of the leaf blade is relatively uniform in color
    Leaf blade width
    5–23 mm
    Leaf duration
    the leaves drop off in winter (or they whither but persist on the plant)
    Leaf form
    the leaves are green, with an expanded blade and a leaf-like texture
    Leaf spines
    there are no spines on the leaf edges
    Leaf stalk
    • the leaves have leaf stalks
    • the leaves have no leaf stalks, but attach directly to the stem
    Leaf stalk attachment to leaf
    the petiole attaches at the basal margin of the leaf blade
    Leaf stalk base
    the petiole base clasps the stem or sheathes the stem
    Leaf teeth and lobes
    the edge of the leaf blade is entire (has no teeth or lobes)
    Leaf type
    the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
    Leaf variation
    the lower leaves are larger, toothier, and/or on longer stalks than the upper leaves
    Leaflet number
    0
    Leaves per node
    • the leaves are growing only at the base of the plant (i.e., basal)
    • there is one leaf per node along the stem
    Pinnately compound leaf type
    NA
    Specific leaf type
    the leaves are simple (i.e., lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
    Stipels
    NA
    Stipule features
    • glabrous on the surface
    • the stipules are straight (or somewhat slanted) across the top
    Stipules
    the plant has stipules
    Teeth per side of leaf blade
    0
  • Place
    Habitat
    • terrestrial
    • wetlands
    New England state
    • Maine
    • New Hampshire
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • alpine or subalpine zones
    • ridges or ledges
  • Scent
    Plant odor
    the plant does not have much of a smell
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Branched tendrils
    NA
    Flowering stem cross-section
    the flowering stem is circular, or with lots of small angles so that it is roughly circular
    Hair between stem nodes
    the stem has no hairs between the nodes
    Hairs between stem nodes
    the stem has no hairs between the nodes
    Hooked hairs on stem between nodes
    no
    Leaves on stem
    there is at least one full leaf above the base of the flowering stem
    Plant height
    2–45 cm
    Stem roughness between nodes
    the stem does not feel rough
    Tendril origin
    NA
    Tendrils
    the plant does not have tendrils

Wetland Status

Usually occurs in wetlands, but occasionally in non-wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FACW)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
absent
Maine
present
Massachusetts
absent
New Hampshire
present
Rhode Island
absent
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Maine
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), endangered (code: E)
New Hampshire
extremely rare (S-rank: S1), endangered (code: E)
Vermont
extirpated (S-rank: SX)

Native to North America?

Yes

Sometimes Confused With

Bistorta officinalis:
inflorescence 5-9 x 1-2 cm, without bulbils, leaf blades 6-20 cm long, and plants escaped from cultivation (vs. B. vivipara, with the inflorescence 3-6 x 0.5-1 cm, bearing bulbils in the apical half or sometimes nearly throughout, leaf blades 2-10 cm long, and plants of alpine habitats).

Synonyms

  • Persicaria vivipara (L.) R. Decr.
  • Polygonum viviparum L.

Family

Polygonaceae

Genus

Bistorta

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

2.  Bistorta vivipara (L.) S.F. Gray NC

alpine bistort. Persicaria vivipara (L.) R. Decr.; Polygonum viviparum L. • ME, NH, VT. Mesic to hydric situations in alpine areas, such as ravines, slides, ledges, plateaus, and snowbank communities.