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Common Bistort
Food and Drink

Native British Plant

Common Bistort
Persicaria bistorta

A striking plant of boggy ground and water meadows, where its purple flowers catch the wind in summertime. The large, dock-like leaves can be eaten as part of a traditional pudding, though it is important to pay attention to its identification when foraging, as it bears a striking resemblance to several other species.

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Buy Common Bistort from these sellers

We do not earn referral fees – the site is sponsored by Life to Land – the nature recovery tool. This lets us stay independent, giving you a bigger choice of sellers.

Lincolnshire Pond Plants

Lincolnshire-based pond and bog plant specialist, with native and non-native species available.




Search eBay for more sellers

Sometimes sellers may not have the plant you’re looking for in stock. eBay can be a useful last resort, with many nurseries selling direct to consumers. However, plants may not be the species advertised as sellers often make mistakes or misrepresent items. Importing plants from other countries risks spreading pests and diseases.

Grow Plants

Grow Common Bistort

What’s The Point?

Wildflower, Food and Drink

What do we mean?

We thought that gardening was complicated enough for newbies, without dealing with terms like ‘perennial’, ‘biennial’ and ‘sedge’. So let’s make it clear and simple – why would you want to buy this plant? E.g. some ‘trees’ like Hazel are also good hedging and provide food.


Technical Plant Type

Perennial, Aquatic

What do we mean?

We know that some of you like more detail, so here it is… 

Annual plants live for one year, then set seed; biennial plants generally grow flowers in the second year, with leafy growth in year one. Perennial plants put down deeper roots and come back every year, provided they aren’t killed off by drought, frost or acts of God/dog. 

Aquatic plants, climbers, ferns, grasses and trees are almost always perennial.

Pond Plant Placement

Bog & Fen

What do we mean?

If you plop a waterlily on the edge of a pond, it will dry out – likewise, a Cuckooflower will drown in the depths. Correct placement is key to success, but some of the terms are a bit mysterious:

‘Bog/fen’ – this land may be slightly flooded in winter, but is almost always moist.
‘Marginal’ – the sloping sides or underwater shelves at the edge of a pond.
‘Deep water’ – anything below about 30cm (1ft).
‘Floating’ – does not need to root in the pond bed.


Flower/Fruit Colour

White, Pink

Flowering/Fruiting Period

May, June, July, August

What do we mean?

Many plants don’t just have colourful flowers, but beautiful fruits, too! Some have tiny flowers but big, bright bunches of berries. We thought it would be sensible to combine these two categories, so you can see which months of the year show the plant at its best.

Plant Height


Soil Type

Loam, Clay, Chalk, Sand

What do we mean?

Different plants like different conditions for their roots, and some species aren’t suited to certain types of soil. It’s best to check this before planting, to avoid costly mistakes. Loam looks like compost, while clay turns slippery and mouldable when wet; chalk soils are pale in colour, found above chalk or limestone rock, and sand is, well, sandy.

Moist and Free-Draining

Soil Moisture

Moist, Moist and free-draining

What do we mean?

Roots are sensitive little organs, and some species of plant don’t like sitting around with wet feet, especially if they rely on processes at the roots, like mycorrhizal interactions. Waterlogged soils tend to have water puddling on the surface when it rains; moist soils are generally wet just below ground level and free-draining soils may be quite dry in the height of summer. And no, we don’t like the term ‘moist’ any more than you, but ‘damp’ doesn’t seem much better.

Partial Shade

Sunlight and Shade

Partial Shade, Full Sun

What do we mean?

Different plants have evolved for different levels of sunlight exposure. Just like humans, some species love soaking up the rays all day while others would rather live in a cellar. This is worth considering before you stick a sun-loving plant on a north-facing balcony or pop that delicate fern in the middle of the patio.

Species Status


What do we mean?

The species listed on Buy Native are, of course, native! That means they arrived on our island naturally, without human help, since the last Ice Age. This helped them to develop important relationships with our other native species – invertebrates, birds, mammals, fungi, etc, that make them crucial parts of a healthy ecosystem.

Is It Vigorous

This plant is moderately vigorous and over time may spread across sections of your garden.

What do we mean?

Just like introduced species, some of our native plants are very competitive – let them loose in your garden and they may well take liberties – we’re looking at you, Hedge Bindweed! We want to help you make an informed choice that avoids alienating the neighbours, which is why we also describe some, ah… enthusiastic species. Very enthusiastic species may not be available to purchase due to their unfriendly tendencies.


There are a number of different Bistorts native to the UK - this one has larger leaves and is often sold in garden centres.


The leaves are cooked and eaten in puddings.
This plant profile was created by Chris
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